THEATRE REVIEW: Fleabag starring Phoebe Waller-Bridge at the Wyndhams Theatre

WORTH A LOOK?: *****

WHERE? Noel Coward Theatre RUNTIME: 65 minutes (no interval)

WHEN? 20/8, opens 28/8 and runs to 14/9/19

No Time To Die is revealed as the title of the new Bond film Waller-Bridge co-wrote moments before she takes to the West End stage to kill off the character with which she made her name.

  • Read on for reasons including how this 1st preview earned its standing ovation

Waller-Bridge’s sex-obsessed character Fleabag is no 007 although you suspect she might crack an inappropriate Goldfinger or Pussy Galore gag if presented with the comparison.

Such is the heightened excitement within the Wyndhams before curtain up that the audience have to be warned repeatedly to stop taking pictures of the stage before Fleabag‘s arrival. It is bare but for a tall red chair on a plinth on which our hero will sit during her hour-plus monologue.

The play was written and 1st performed at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2013 where it won the Fringe First Award. Viewers of the 6-episode 1st series of the show which aired on BBC2 in 2016 will be familiar with elements of this play’s contents although in many ways it’s even more dark, blunt and brutal.

We fell in love with that London-set 1st series – read our 5 reasons to watch – and it fully justifies winning the 2017 BAFTA for Best Female Comedy Performance as well as the 2016 monsta for Best TV/Film Actress.

In our opinion the 2nd 6-episode series which aired on BBC1 this year took the whole experience up a level, was arguably sharper and threw in a conflict between love and faith for good measure. It’s shortlisted for 11 Emmys on 22/9/19.

So we’re big fans of the show but what did we make of the theatre experience? It’s a one-act single-hander and Waller-Bridge is never less than captivating whether she’s (often) being laugh-out-loud funny or occasionally betraying the depth, pain and heartache below the surface.

There are a lot of women in the audience and its clearly a show which resonates. As well as laughing, there are some particularly side-splitting audience reactions to both guinea pig cruelty and being touched inappropriately, but then bought a drink, at a bar.

This is 65 minutes short and, although we could gripe about value for money because the time passed in such a joyous, erm, flash, we’d rather ponder on how this character has gone too soon but will never be forgotten.

  • Picture via Facebook courtesy Delfont Mackintosh. Tickets
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