Phoebe Waller-Bridge is electrifying in the final ever theatre stint of her hit one-woman show.
There’s nothing like one lone empty seat on a stage to get the brain firing on all cylinders. And the anticipation is so very real in the minutes leading up to the start of Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s one-woman show at London’s Wyndham Theatre – one of the last 30 times the comedian/actress/writer/director will perform Fleabag in front of live audiences.
The show first premiered at Edinburgh Fringe back in 2013, and was met with acclaim during its runs at Soho Theatre. Waller-Bridge then snagged a BAFTA after turning the show into a BBC Three series. But then, deafening adulation rightfully came with the fine-tuned second season, which aired earlier this year, and saw us froth at the mouths in rapture over Sexy Priests, tear-inducing sister solidarity, its razor-sharp sordid humour, urban fox pursuits, Olivia Coleman (WE STAN), Fiona Shaw (WE STAN), Kristin Scott Thomas (IT HURTS TO STAN SO MUCH), and the romantic notion that someone will come along one day and truly “see” us. You get a fourth wall break! You get a fourth wall break!
She comes on stage, the lights turn up, and so it begins…
Read our breakdown of Fleabag below…
WHAT: We know it well by now. A sex-obsessed, dry-humoured, slightly aggressive woman turns up for a job interview. Well, actually she’s applying for a business loan. For a guinea pig café. She started it with her best friend Boo. Things have happened since then. Grief manifests itself in different ways. Humour. Sex. And some pretty outrageous porn preference confessions. And we are privy to every little secret and anecdote.
WHERE: The entirety of the 65-minute play takes place in the aforementioned single seat on the centre of the stage, but we do go many places with our protagonist as she regales us with outrageous stories of her ex-boyfriend’s cleaning tendencies, of a drunk woman on the Northern line, of her own betrayal, her own all-encompassing heartbreak, and it floods the stage, and the air around us theatre-goers goes palpably thick with it.
STAR OF THE SHOW: The guinea pig. Obviously not, there isn’t one. It’s a one-woman show. Phoebe Waller-Bridge is so effortlessly affable and lovable, that a standing ovation at curtains saw her come out to appease the audience four times.
WHO TO WATCH IT WITH: Go by yourself. No word of a lie. There is something about the hypnotism and rawness of Waller-Bridge’s performance that makes it feel like, you too, are alone on a stage, with a single floodlight illuminating all your hopeless and wonderful decisions.
STAND OUT SCENE: You realise very quickly that the material for the BBC series has been toned down. A lot. And a certain scene involving a guinea pig – omitted from the televisual adaptation, but intact for the stage play – leaves a pretty traumatic lump in your throat, as a shocked gasp ripples around the audience. Also, there’s a few visibly raised eyebrows at the realisation that Waller-Bridge has made Martin, Claire’s sleazy American husband… Scottish for this theatre run. No lost humour points though.
WATCH IF: You love love, and hate yourself! JK, but Fleabag’s articulate self-loathing and self-awareness are idiosyncratic of the performance. Watch if you’ve not got your shit together and would like to see someone else (who probably has their shit together less than you) realise that everything will probably be OK. Also watch if you have a positively FILTHY sense of humour.
DON’T WATCH IF: You’ve really, really not got your shit together.
WONDERLAND REVIEW: 5/5