03 April 2018

MICF: Fleabag

DryWrite, Soho Theatre, Malthouse Theatre
29 March 2018
Beckett Theatre, Coopers Malthouse
to 22 April

Fleabag. Maddie Rice. Photo by Richard Davenport

Phoebe Waller-Bridge's solo show Fleabag was a hit at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2013 and was developed into a TV series by the BBC in 2016 (it's on iView now; it's great).

Fleabag (we don't know her real name) lives in London, is in her late 20s and has recently lost her mum, her boyfriend and her best friend – two died, one left her. Her guinea pig–themed cafe has failed and a job interview gets off to an atrocious start.

It's a remarkable piece of writing that builds by revealing how the woman, whose side we so want to be on, has behaved in ways that make her so difficult to like.

It also has no issues with the fact that women have and think about sex, and can be empowered and/or fucked up by it. So many of the promo quotes about this show focus on her sexual behaviour, but it's not about the sex. Or about being a bad feminist.

It's about grief and regret and how obsessive behaviour is so often the only way to find control.

This touring production is performed by Maddie Rice. Her performance is very much like Waller-Bridge (both versions have been directed by Vicky Jones), but the distance of being an actor, and not the writer-performer, brings an outside view that brings a noticeably different degree of sympathy and understanding.

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