Review: Fleabag

Posted 23 December, 2019 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

By: Phoebe Waller-Bridge
Format/Source: eBook; my purchase

Celebrate the incredible journey of Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s outrageously funny, blazingly forthright Fleabag, from fringe theatre hit to international cultural phenomenon, in this special edition – featuring the original playscript, never-before-seen colour photos, and exclusive bonus content by Phoebe, director Vicky Jones and key members of the creative team.

In 2013, Fleabag made its debut as a one-woman show in sixty-seater venue the Big Belly, at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe’s Underbelly. It was an immediate hit, going on to enjoy two runs at London’s Soho Theatre, national and international tours, whilst picking up prizes including Critics’ Circle, The Stage, Fringe First and two Off West End Theatre Awards, plus an Olivier Award nomination.

The 2016 TV adaptation propelled Fleabag and Phoebe to worldwide fame, earning critical acclaim and further accolades including Writers’ Guild, Royal Television Society and BAFTA Television Awards. A second series, nominated for eleven Emmys, followed in 2019, along with a sold-out run of the original play in New York.

This special edition was released alongside Fleabag’s first West End run at Wyndham’s Theatre, London. It is introduced by Deborah Frances-White, stand-up comedian, writer and host of The Guilty Feminist podcast.

Yup, picked up this book after watching the show a few months ago (which is brilliant btw, why didn’t I watch it sooner? Oh that’s right, I take forever getting around to watching stuff). I wanted to read what the original was like.

It’s a short play since it’s a one-person show, but it’s chock-full of character and a whirlwind of events happening in a span of how many pages. Fleabag is quite the character, brazen and forthright, says things that people perhaps would not imagine a woman saying or that in general we would not admit to ourselves, she’s witty but harbouring a lot of issues and ultimately guilt. She’s complicated, as people are, but the play is funny is conveying situations in a hilarious and awkward manner. I haven’t watched series 1 of the show yet (oops; jumped straight to series 2 because, you know, hot priest, lol. That and I heard it was damn near perfect a series. Which it was) but it seems series 1 covers all of the events laid out in the play, which was interesting. Fleabag obviously is going through a lot underneath the surface, dealing with a lot of unresolved issues and people suddenly disappearing in her life, with the hurt she inflicted unintentionally towards those who are important in her life. And yet we root for her because ultimately she is rather well-meaning underneath her struggles. A bit of a segway, but seeing what she revealed in series 1/this play, I can see why series 2 took the road that it did.

The only reason I didn’t give it full stars was that I wanted a bit more, lol. That and the ending left me feeling a little “Oh, that’s it?” Unresolved not in a “Now what?” sort of way but rather…I don’t know how to describe it. It was funny, but a little too open-ended for my liking. Nonetheless I’m happy to have read the play, hopefully I will get around to series 1 and in the meantime will just re-watch series 2 on repeat.

Rating: ★★★★☆

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