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Review: Fleabag

The very rude BAFTA award-winning BBC comedy arrives at Warwick Arts Centre with Maddie Rice taking centre stage.

Actress/writer Maddie Rice performs Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s riveting dark comedy cult hit Fleabag as a one-woman monologue, perched on a stool centre-stage.  The 60-minute play opens with a job interview and within minutes Fleabag’s already stripped down to her bra! It wasn’t intended as a provocative or seductive gesture – she was simply hot and forgot she didn’t have a top on underneath her jumper. But her interview – via a voice-over – takes a sudden nose-dive for the worse.

A self-confessed porn addict, who runs a guinea-pig themed cafe, Fleabag has recently lost her mum to breast cancer and her best friend Boo was killed in tragic accident. Boyfriend Harry has left her too… As therapy, following her mum’s death, her dad has paid for her and her older sister to go to feminist lectures. Laugh-out-loud funny in parts and utterly filthy in others, some of Fleabag’s anecdotes may totally gross you out and feel slightly out-of-step in a post Trump, #MeToo world.

What’s interesting watching the live stage show is the reactions of the audience around you…from the young couple in the row behind giggling at every sex joke, to the two girls sitting next to me who laugh uncontrollably at anything to do with Fleabag’s guinea pig, Hilary.

Fleabag was first performed on the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August 2013 and seen several revivals runs around the UK. This latest tour follows the success of a six-part TV series that saw it journey progressively from BBC3 to BBC2 and then Amazon Prime. It’s directed by Vicky Jones, whose play Touch  – “a cringe-inducing drama of wine, bedsits and Tinder calamities” – sold out London’s Soho Theatre last summer. Waller-Bridge, the writer and original performer, has gone on to star in the Han Solo Star Wars spin-off.

Rice brings an energetic vitality, openness and vulnerability to the show’s 26-year-old self-destructive anti-heroine. Refreshingly honest, extremely funny and gloriously inappropriate.

Fleabag runs until Sat May 12 at Warwick Arts Centre, University of Warwick, Coventry, at 7.45pm, warwickartscentre Post show talk on Thurs May 10. National tour dates here. For ages 16+

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