Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s self-penned one woman play, Fleabag, is a stand out piece this fringe. Waller-Bridge’s character talks bluntly about masturbation, watching porn, her estranged father and a guinea pig. She’s clearly a destructive spirit, a young woman feeling utterly lost in life, all the more so after her best friend and business partner dies. Turning to sex, we see how controlling her body and others’ perceptions of it gives her some brief comfort but how, slowly, it’s wrecking the rest of her life, turning her into a one-dimensional person where every thought, every action, every concern is confronted with sex.
The script is sharp and funny, the character original and Waller-Bridge’s performance flawless. On the empty stage, with only a chair for set, she inhabits the space, holding our attention from beginning to end, with every line played to its full potential and every facial expression perfection. The script is so funny that it’s almost a shock when you realise how serious the underlying story is, how well Waller-Bridge vacillates between comedy and tragedy. Gradually the true extent of the problems in the Fleabag’s life are revealed and, despite all her bad behaviour, we know there must be something salvageable there. It’s almost a perfect show. Perhaps some moments could be delivered slightly less flippantly.
Although it’s rare, something it feels as though she’s playing for more laughs than necessary for the piece to be engaging. It’s also slightly odd we hear so little about the mother, although she too has died. Overall however this is a wonderful one-woman show and a realistic, messy, human female character. Go and see it!
Runs until Sun 25th Aug