Fleabag at the Soho
Previously having played the Edinburgh Fringe festival and nominated for an Olivier Award, the one-woman-show Fleabag has arrived at the Soho Theatre with a backlog of positive reviews. This warts-and-all self-exploration of a young woman dealing with the repercussions of her past is funny, challenging and refreshingly honest.
A young attractive woman’s experiences with casual anal sex and snapping vagina selfies in a disabled cubicle at work may justify trepidation at the possibility of facing yet another shallow Sex in the City-esque production, but thankfully Fleabag is so much more than that. Of course there’s sex – plenty of it – but it’s real, raw lust driven by circumstance, which provides one layer of a multi-faceted narrative. Also, by personalising the brutally candid story to such a relatable character, the show skilfully allows both male and female audience members to share a commonality with the protagonist’s tale, thus increasing the play’s successes.
An outstanding performance by Phoebe Waller-Bridge delivers credibility, honesty and, most importantly, a genuine lung-lugging black humour. She nails every moment, executing several characters with ease, while maintaining the audience’s relationship with the protagonist. It’s easy to understand why this performance has garnered her several honours, including a Critics Circle Award and an Off West End Award. Behind this is a non-linear script, written also by Waller-Bridge, which is intelligent, revelatory and incredibly heartfelt. Every time we’re manipulated into believing a cliché is imminent, the play provides yet another fresh and interesting twist or laugh-out-loud moment that keeps us completely engrossed.
Director Vicky Jones must also be credited for creating an excellently paced, captivating production that holds the audience with well-timed peaks and troughs. Another notable mention must go to sound designer Isobel Waller-Bridge, whose pitch-perfect work enhances the play’s narrative and cements its authenticity. In fact, it would be hard not to mention every aspect of this outstanding piece, which is genuinely successful throughout and provides a wonderful theatre experience.
Fleabag is on at Soho Theatre until 22nd May 2014, for further information or to book visit here.
Watch director Vicky Jones and actor Phoebe Waller-Bridge discuss the production here: