There’s a strong contingent of funny women representing Iceland at this year’s Fringe. There’s Bylgja Babylons over at 52 Canoes, Laufey Haralds taking on Nordic Noir at the Rose Theatre and Snjólaug Lúðvíksdóttir staking a claim as a name to remember at the Gilded Balloon’s new Tolbooth Market venue. The Reykjavik resident’s first solo show is brisk, breezy and full of the unabashed openness that we assume is a Scandinavian stereotype.
The title Let it Snow refers to the name Snjólaug which, Lúðvíksdóttir explains with some exasperation, means ‘snow pool’ in Icelandic. This may sound charming, but it would be the equivalent of being called something like Ethel here. “I’m the only Snjólaug with their own hips and knees,” she gripes. Other topics include the shock of Icelandic culture after growing up in France, her distrust of American friendliness and the north/side divide in her home country that closely mirrors our own here; this she memorably illustrates through the differing attitudes of the regions regarding pubic hair.
Lúðvíksdóttir’s tales of small-town life and how it has shaped her as a person will strike a chord with those familiar with Shetland comic Marjolein Robertson. Perhaps there’s something in the air the closer one gets to the Arctic Circle, as Lúðvíksdóttir shares the latter’s no-holds-barred frankness and propensity for candid personal insights that threaten to tip over into oversharing at any given moment. Some of the details she offers are as bracing as a polar breeze, while delivered with the softly-spoken faux-coyness of a self-proclaimed late developer. She’s fooling no-one, as there’s an obvious glee in raising eyebrows she’s not quite able to conceal and a slightly paradoxical fascination and revulsion with the human body; her own in particular.
Let it Snow is a fine debut, if perhaps a little rushed. Only 45 minutes of the advertised hour has elapsed by the end of the show, although Lúðvíksdóttir certainly packs a lot into that time. She certainly doesn’t come across as rushed or flustered; quite the opposite in fact. She’s the model of control and composure. She’s followed the template of write-what-you-know to the letter and sculpted her experiences into some pretty bullet-proof material; punchy, witty, and completely shameless. It’ll be fascinating to see if she can expand her horizons and burst out from her bubble of performative solipsism.