Every seat in the auditorium at the start of storyteller Hagen’s performance has a flyer on it warning that the show is about emotional abuse and explaining that if it triggers upset in anyone in the audience they are free to leave without embarrassment. However what she goes on to deliver is an hour of gentle, self deprecating comedy which sets out to tell her own and her grandmother’s tale of breaking out of the control of the narcissistic grandfather who raised her. Throughout the show she tells us some of the abominable things the man did to his family and of her unalloyed glee at the prospect of his death and her intention to stay away from his funeral. The audience is made aware that we are only hearing the tip of the iceberg: we’re being spared a lot of gory details, because the point of the story is not to expose him, but to learn how she and her grandmother have risen to challenge him.
It’s not the most promising premise for an hour of side-splitting comedy , but there are many genuinely funny riffs as she touches on those old comedy classics Danish collaboration with the Nazis , her teenage fandom of Westlife, the superiority of the Danish language ( They have separate words for all grandparents and it seems blindingly obvious we should too) and the best way to boil a frog to death.
The title refers to a now discredited experiment that concluded if you put a frog in a pan of boiling water it will jump out , but if you heat lukewarm water by small incremental degrees it won’t notice and be boiled to death. She likens this to her mommom’s subjugation by degrees by her momdad.
Hagen throws references to her previous shows about body image into the mix, and while she makes valid points about fat shaming ,this is less successful as it dips into the over used fat comedienne shtick without really adding much to this otherwise heart warming tale of redemption.
Well worth a visit.