There are some one woman shows where it feels like watching paint dry would be more interesting than sitting in the audience. In fact, some are so dire (you know, the ones where the actress sits there in a black turtle-neck jumper listing every wrong that was ever done to her) that it feels like the performer should be paying you as their therapist. Fleabag is not one of those shows. In fact, I would say it is the complete polar opposite as there wasn’t one moment within the whole show when I wasn’t riveted.
Written and performed by Pheobe Waller-Bridge, Fleabag is quite simply one woman telling you about a couple of days in her life. But boy does she make it funny. Full of acute observations about modern womanhood, urban living and the perils of a causal sex-addiction, Fleabag is a hilarious stream of consciousness and Waller-Bridges is a comedienne extraordinaire. Her character is about to lose the business that she and her recently deceased friend set up and over the course of a few days she manages to screw up nearly every relationship she has, while drowning her sorrows in copious wine and sexual encounters. But Waller-Bridge’s writing and delivery means that although there are some touching moments, on the whole it’s a righteous comedy.
Not one to shy away from the hard hitting topics (‘Do I have a massive arsehole?’ ‘I masterbate all the time now’ ‘He pencilled fucked a hamster’ are all large themes), Waller-Bridges refusal to compromise on bad taste and acute crudeness means that the show is an actual reflection of a woman’s thoughts, even if she include ones we don’t say out loud. Her comic timing is spot on and raucous laughter from the audience smashes through every story she tells. At points it is very sorrowful and Waller-Bridges and director Vicky Jones never ham up the emotion of scene, instead choosing to bring genuine emotion to the situation.
Fleabag is an absolutely hilarious and honest piece of theatre where the audience feel a real connection to the character Waller-Bridges has created. Twisted, funny and completely relatable, this show is bloody brilliant. End of story.
Reviewed by Roz Carter
Fleabag plays at the Soho Theatre until 25 May 2014. Click here for tickets