Review: Fleabag (Carriageworks, Sydney)

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Having conquered stage and screen, Fleabag is something of a juggernaut in the world of storytelling. It’s a water cooler piece with quotable lines, enactable moments and characters that we have all crossed paths with at some stage or another.

In the 60 minutes you are in her company, our modern-day Every(wo)man takes her audience through the trials and tribulations of her life. From losing a dear friend through to negotiating sexual exploits, websites and a dying business, this is a template for a survival guide to modern life.

It was interesting coming to Fleabag with no baggage. I’ve never seen it before on stage or screen. I had no idea what to expect and more importantly had no idea of content or response. I appear to have lived more under a rock than I originally thought.

Maddie Rice has picked up the baton from creator and writer Phoebe Waller-Bridge and it is as if she was born to play the role. Rice expertly weaves her way through Waller-Bridge’s razor-sharp script orchestrating perfectly between moments of reflection, sadness, joy and observation.

One of the most common comments about Fleabag is that it is ‘filthy’ and ‘unflinching’. Whilst these comments may be used to soften the blow for the unsuspecting or delicate of nature, in the hands of lesser practitioners, it may well be filthy, crass, crude etc. In the hands of Rice and director Vicky Jones however, Waller-Bridge’s script is honest, human and heartfelt. It is a mind map of a survivor who deals with life’s blows in the best way she knows how.

Fleabag is festival theatre at its best. Sharp, funny and brutally and endearingly honest.

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