FRINGE THEATRE — Fleabag— The Box @ GOUD — 5K

scaled_FleabagBy Belle Dunning

Fleabag is a one-woman performance that will leave you floored. Its raw honesty and emotion, inappropriate humour and the genuine connection you develop with Fleabag herself is surprising and refreshing. In a modern age where we all struggle to put down our phones, be present and just engage with other people, Maddie Rice’s performance reminds us that well-performed theatre — with nothing but a chair as a prop and the audience’s imagination — is a true art.

In her portrayal of the troubled yet charming twenty-six year old Fleabag, Rice brings you back into the present and for one hour creates another world, her world, right there in front of you. That world revolves around a guinea-pig themed cafe on the brink of liquidation, her ongoing trauma and sadness over the recent death of her best friend, and her desperate addiction to sex. Through her reactions to the people in her everyday life, her frequent replaying of her friend’s still connected phone message, and her desperate sexting to anyone at all, we slowly break through Fleabag’s confident, funny exterior and experience the pain and depression that lies underneath.

Originally created by Phoebe Waller-Bridge and turned into a BAFTA-award-winning BBC TV series, Rice is only the second actress after Waller-Bridge herself to play Fleabag. Her performance, though, feels incredibly real and genuine. As an audience member you gain an insight into Fleabag’s every thought, good and bad, and realise that she is just as painfully human as the rest of us. Rice is a truly talented actress and manages to create an entire world and experience out of nothing — it captivates and envelops you just as thoroughly as a fantastic book, enabling you to create your own scenes and meaning from her prompts and descriptions.

Fleabag is also important as a piece of modern theatre that challenges our preconceptions about what it means to be a woman in today’s world. Fleabag, the character, is unashamedly comfortable with and open about her sexuality. It is refreshing to hear a woman talk about things that rarely get touched, let alone in front of an entire room full of people.

Fleabag is funny, heartbreaking, honest and poetically beautiful all at once and is the best show I have seen in a while. Even if theatre isn’t your thing, this will be. The wide age and demographic range of the audience is testament to that — anyone can see this. Fleabag is showing at the Garden of Unearthly Delights until March 18, and you should definitely go and see it.

Kryztoff Rating 5K

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