Filthy, funny, tragic and raw, Fleabag is an enjoyable dive into the life and mind of a millennial Londoner struggling to deal with work, grief and intimacy.
Jumping back and forth through key moments of Fleabag’s recent past, this one-hour performance paints a portrait of a woman struggling to make her way through the modern world.
Maddie Rice sits on a chair in the middle of the stage, and tells the audience anecdotes from these parts of Fleabag’s life. In the beginning, they just seem like good yarns – the kind of funny stories friends tell each other in the pub – but take on more meaning as the broader themes and dark secrets trickle out.
She interacts with and imitates the people from her stories too, who comprise a strong cast of characters, including her stitched up sister, livewire best friend, an affable Cockney customer and a rat-faced romantic interest.
The stories frequently escalate from seemingly normal to very vulgar events, which send the audience into fits of laughter. Fleabag’s rude reflections and opinions also make for some shockingly funny comedy, which at times sends presumably more sensitive members of the audience to the door.
Being a one-woman show, Fleabag depends mightily on its script and lone-actor, both of which are impeccable in this case. Phoebe Waller-Bridge originally wrote and starred in the show, going on to work on its TV adaptation, so her writing is tightly wired to tell this smartly-structured, 60 minute story with its lashings of pathos and comedy.
Maddie Rice’s take on Waller-Bridge’s titular Fleabag is a highly engrossing performance. She manages to make Fleabag run through the gamut of being relatable, sickeningly self-obsessed, in deep grief and on the brink of emotional collapse. With a script that often makes those hairpin turns between filthy comedy and tragedy, this production of Fleabag is lucky to have an actor with the chops, presence and charisma to pull it off.
Fleabag was performed on Wednesday, March 8 at The Box in the Garden of Unearthly Delights, and continues there until March 18.