Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s acclaimed production of the filthily funny Fleabag is currently on tour across the UK showcasing the life of a young twenty-something girl struggling to understand herself.
Obsessed with sex, emotionally erratic and stumbling through a maze of social anxiety, Maddie Rice takes on the role of Fleabag (whose nickname is never explained), the fiery young woman navigating her way through life. Having never seen the original production, nor the critically-acclaimed TV show, I went in completely blind and found myself completely enthralled in the witty and authentic dialogue.
Sitting on a bright red stall, with merely a few voiceovers and a lighting change or two, Rice captivates the audience with her commanding presence. Telling the story of each day in her life, she slips into the different characters she engages with to create a captivating dialogue. Controlling the audience as she flicks from encounters with different characters to internal thoughts, we are given a real insight into Fleabag’s broken life.
Waller-Bridge has crafted the female voice in an excellently relatable way. It’s clever how she has used the incredibly humourous tone yet interjects it now and again with poignant moments of realisation, as Fleabag struggles to make light of the way life is throwing her curveballs.
When Sex and the City aired on our screens, it was revolutionary because it displayed the truth in how women actually speak, as opposed to how they are portrayed in TV and film. Fleabag takes that to another level, and it’s shocking, unrefined and unfiltered but entirely real.
Pheobe Waller-Bridge’s production articulates the trials and tribulations of being a millennial woman with such honesty. Maddie Rice’s performance is utterly remarkable as she creates the lovable character that we can all see a bit of ourselves in. Fleabag is heart-breaking, hilarious, powerful, thought-provoking, but most of all it is an exceptional depiction of modern women.
Fleabag is on at the Warwick Arts Centre until the 12th of May before continuing on tour around the UK.