Review | Fleabag is a mixed bag featuring guinea pigs and porn

Fleabag | The Blue Room | til Feb 24th | ★ ★ ★ ½ 

I must admit that FLEABAG is the first time that I’ve seen guinea pigs and porn appear in a play together. Both equally important themes to the plot of the show, the question of how a play based around an overly-sexual owner of a guinea pig cafe may work is asked.

The answer is that it works. Sometimes.

Fleabag (now turned into a TV show) features a myriad of confessionals delivered from a very simple staging with a solo character played by Maddie Rice. The show takes the audience back and forth between awkward job interviews, sexual encounters and human interactions, however, it was a little dissapointing for a fringe show

Whereas the show seemed like it wanted to explore the intricacies of modern love, sex, guilt, and strangers, it felt that the audience was otherwise left with the impression that it never really made any specific comments or stances on anything, instead leaving a grey ambigous shadow in its wake.

Whilst the show may not have been what was expected, and at times seemed to struggle with a self obsessed character, it’s undeniable that it is terrifically put together. Lighting and audio, both often ignored in Fringe World shows, were used to good effect, and the use of the main space at the Blue Room Theatre was terrific. It was refreshing to see the visual effects match the tone of the production.

Maddie Rice is a terrific performer. Every movement of hers carried the knowledge and understanding of the character, and, without giving too much away, her energy made the audience both hate her and feel sorry for her all at once.

Atmosphere and energy often dictate whether a show suceeds, and for the most part FLEABAG has an abundance of it – a combination of brilliant acting and fast paced writing has the audience enthralled in the story. But the play did leave me asking the question of what the point really was – an hour of hearing about someone’s psychotic sexual adventures surely wasn’t all that the show was?

But as it turns out, it didn’t shape up to be much more exciting than the sounds of porn videos, short conversations on the train and tidbits about death that seemed too sensitive to be mentioned in the same sentences as masturbation.

All things considered, FLEABAG is a good piece of theatre. Not great, but certainly not terrible either. I’m excited to see Maddie Rice in future productions, and I hope to see more work from creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge.

FLEABAG is showing at the Blue Room Theatre until the 24th of February. 

Davis Burke, image Richard Davenport.  


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