Holy Mother of God! Fleabag really is as good as they say. Winner of a Fringe First at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe last month, the West-End transfer of this much-talked about show had me very excited. And boy did it deliver.
For some, the thought of watching a woman sitting on a bar stool for an hour delivering a monologue “of some sort of female living her sort of life” may not seem intriguing. But such is the brilliance of the writing, the performance and the production of Fleabag that this is one of the best hours you could ever spend in a theatre.
Great attention has clearly been given to all elements of this performance. The use of sound is superb and the staging and direction, though seemingly simple, allows us both the intimacy with the character, but also gives Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s plenty of room and flexibility to perform.
And the performance is superb. Phoebe Waller-Bridge is energetic and full-blooded, really bringing to life her character, Fleabag. Fleabag is a very complicated soul. She’s emotionally needy but not someone you’d ever want as a friend. She’s nice to your face but vicious behind your back. You’d most definitely not want her as your sister.
And all the time, every time, her actions are completely out-of-step with accepted behaviour. But whose fault is that – hers or ours? Fleabag is a self-proclaimed “bad feminist.”
Though Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s performance is excellent, credit must also be given to her writing. Fleabag is a very tightly, well-constructed monologue. It’s full of twists and turns, and unexpected revelations. It also plays very well with the audience’s expectations and assumptions on where the plot is going, surprising us as Fleabag’s life unravels.
The performance takes the audience through a full range of emotions. There’s laughter, there’s sadness. Some moments are incredibly awkward. Other times we feel embarrassed for Fleabag. But by the end of the hour, we really feel we understand the woman we have just spent an hour with. Whether we like her or not is the intriguing question the audience is left to consider.
Soho Theatre, London to September 22, 2013
This article is also available on the Huffington Post UK website.