Broke, dumped and horny, Fleabag tells us her story. The play that became a cult hit and BAFTA Award-winning show for the BBC returns to the stage starring Maddie Rice, taking on the role from writer Phoebe Waller-Bridge who is now expanding Fleabag into season two of its television incarnation.
Rice oozes presence on stage. In a sharp, polished performance she is relentlessly present and shows incredible restraint while delivering shocking and rollicking one-liners. Her connection to the audience draws us in and it allows the shocks to hit harder.
The script is energetic, sharp and cutting, filled with observations from everyday life and moments of raw feminism that are rarely voiced – let alone projected to an audience from a stage. The stripped-back production allows the focus to remain on Rice, who sits on a stool on an empty black stage. The occassional shifts in lighting and soundtrack to cue scene changes have a similar subtlety. Vicky Jones’ direction is playful yet poignant and allows Rice to use every inch of her exquisite comic timing to make this work shine.
Fleabag is hilariously funny, but the darkness hovering over her shoulder never quite fades. This is stunning theatre.