Phoebe Waller-Bridge is the Girl with the Golden Pen. She tickled us with her sassy baddie, Villanelle, from ‘Killing Eve,’ and is currently co-writing the screenplay for the new Bond film, ‘No Time to Die.’ Last night, she thrilled the audience with the return of her one-woman show, ‘Fleabag’ at the Wyndham theatre, which she wrote and in which she stars. The play started its meteoric life at the Edinburgh Fringe back in 2013 and followed with a hugely successful BAFTA-winning TV series. She also starred as the irritating droid L3-37 droid in the Star Wars ‘Solo,’ but we don’t want a buzz kill, so let’s not go there.
Just like its version on the box, the west end ‘Fleabag ’ is très très risqué – it is a profoundly rude, no holds barred tale about a sexually-charged, dysfunctional woman living in London. Waller-Bridge also paints a touching portrait of our heroine, reminding us how challenging it is to navigate life as a single millennial woman. Yes she’s batty, but there’s a little of us all in Fleabag. Her monologues are delivered so naturally, it is as if we in the audience have become her besties. We’re simply having a good chinwag over a drink.
The play kicks off with a job interview where Fleabag inadvertently takes off her jumper, revealing her bra underneath. It all goes downhill form there. We find out her guinea pig-themed café is on the brink of bankruptcy and that her best friend Bo recently died in an accidental suicide. She has a rather insipid boyfriend who comes in and out of her life (literally) and who catches her masturbating to Obama on the telly whilst he is asleep next to her. It’s an evening full of hilarious hiccups.
It’s a one-woman show, but the other characters are omnipresent and sometimes acted by Fleabag herself (she even does a gut-busting rendition of Hilary, the guinea-pig). Sister Clare is there with all her frightful hairstyles, and hideous husband Martin lingers like a rancid stench (Waller-Bridge cast him as an American in the TV series, but here he is Scottish). Both her father and the godmother we love to hate so much lurk in the background.
The theatre was jammed with an overwhelmingly female – and young – audience. It was a joyous 65 minutes spent in Waller-Bridge’s bewitching company, and I would do it all over again. But’s it’s a very British play, and it’s hard to imagine how a newbie American in London might take to Fleabag’s warts and all. Yes, you’re going to squirm, your jaw may drop a little, but you’re going to laugh your head off during this deliciously rip-roaring evening. You might want to come armed with some incontinence pads – just in case you laugh a little too much.
How to get a ticket to Fleabag
You’ll be lucky to get a ticket to ‘Fleabag’ at the theatre, but there are ways to get your hands on London’s hottest ticket. You can book tickets for the live broadcast in cinemas around the country on 12 September. In addition 33 standing tickets go on sale from 10am on the day of each performance from the Wyndham Theatre box office (tickets are limited to one per person) – more information here. Finally, 50 tickets for each performance are available for £15 via a Todaytix lottery – more details here.