Theatre Review: Fleabag at Soho Theatre

Phoebe Waller-Bridge in Fleabag at the Big Belly, Underbelly.

While walking out of the one-woman show ‘Fleabag’ at the Soho Theatre I heard a man call the writer and performer, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, a formidable woman. I’d say I’d have to agree with that man as Waller-Bridge does inspire respect and is a true force to be reckoned with.  She is fierce, funny and an intelligent performer who  has an incredible knack for pace and comedy.

The story is that Fleabag was running  a cafe with her friend ,Boo and all was going well till one day Boo finds out that her boyfriend cheated on her with another girl which sends her completely off the rails. Boo walks into a busy cycle lane thinking this would land her in hospital with a minor injury and in return get a bit of revenge on her ex but very sadly she meets her death instead.

Distraught and upset over the loss of her best friend , Fleabag ‘s life starts to become defined by an addiction to Internet porn, a break up with her boyfriend , a hunt for multiple sexual partners ,  the grief of her mother’s death and the cafe Boo has left her to run. On top of this the cafe’s lease in nearly up and did I mention there is also a pet guinea pig to look after as well?

I don’t want to label this piece as “brave” as I don’t think in this day and age talking about a woman who really loves sex should be so shocking . I mean it’s been how many years since the first episode of Sex and The City ? And let’s not forget  that 50 Shades of Grey has sold 70 million copies around the world! However , I couldn’t help but feel that somehow the topic still felt like a  taboo. She still managed to get some gasps out of the audience when she talked unflinchingly about her strong sexual desires some of which were quite grotesque but it  is exactly what makes this character so fun to be with.  Fleabag is shameless , ruthless, selfish and incredibly human all at the same time.  It is a refreshing character to grace the London stage and I am now longing to see more of them. With  Vicky Jones’ simplistic direction and Waller-Bridge ‘s delivery being so razor sharp , it is impossible not to be engrossed by the show.

The monologue is also well -crafted and the narrative is easy to follow and it is simultaneously injected with such great comedic moments that it constantly takes you by surprise.  However, as hilarious as this piece of theatre is, there is a sense that Fleabag with her incredible zest for sex and adventure is also deeply lonely.  Waller-Bridge understands this really well and knows how to strike that balance between playing the witty , sparky , funny girl while also being able to show a more vulnerable side to the character.

Fleabag is on until Sunday the 22nd at the Soho Theatre and is presented by Dry Write Theatre which is a theatre company dedicated to new writing. For more on Dry Write please visit www.drywrite.com For Soho Theatre please visit www.sohotheatre.com

About Melissa Palleschi

Melissa Palleschi New York actress living in London and trained in Italy, New York and here in London at the Actors Studio. She is also a founding member of the Planktonic Players, who made their London debut at Camden Fringe Festival in 2012.

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