This brilliant new comedy started life as a successful Edinburgh Fringe show. 

The titular Fleabag (we never learn her real name, but we do learn EVERYTHING else about her) is a woman of around thirty or so, trying to manoeuvre her way through life with a failing cafe, a big sister who is her polar opposite, a distant father, a discreetly nasty step mother, and the recent death of her best friend and business partner.

The results are hilarious, at times uncomfortably intimate, poignant and in the end, kind of tragic.

The tragedy and poignancy never overshadows the hilarity though, the comedy is constant. When watching Fleabag, I couldn’t help think what a superb job casting had done in hiring the brilliant Phoebe Waller-Bridge as lead, not realising that she wrote the show, which is obviously why she is so perfect.

She constantly breaks the third wall, to talk to the audience, giving little explanations, quips and occasionally the subtlest of delicious glances and raised eyebrows. 

This talking to the audience  may all sound a bit Zack Morris (Ed swoons)  from Saved by the Bell, but it is more reminiscent of Jez and Mark’s voice-overs of their thoughts in Peep Show.

These insights are often personal, and occasionally quite sinister but ultimately makes the show very intimate. This feeling of intimacy is heightened by regularly seeing personal acts such as going to the loo, taking nudes and in one scene, masturbating whilst watching a clip of a certain prominent politician.

Awkwardness ensues when her current boyfriend who’s lying next to her, wakes and storms out the house. Flea indifference to this kind of event pretty much sums her up as a character.

She goes throughout the show, doing as she pleases, generally uncaring about those closest to her. She is not your typical happy go lucky comedy lead. You can see her faults, and her actions are not always easy to understand.

On the surface she is almost like a comedy villain. Despite this, you find yourself routing for her, based on sheer charm and screen presence.

She sums her self up at the end of episode one with a moment of brutally honest self appraisal:

“I have a horrible feeling I am a greedy, perverted, selfish, apathetic, cynical, depraved, morally bankrupt woman who can’t even call herself a feminist. ”

Despite these flaws, Flea bag is hard to dislike. She is a character obviously still in mourning for her best friend and business partner Boo, who accidentally killed herself to teach her cheating boyfriend a lesson.

Special mention should be given to the ubiquitous Olivia Colman, who’s superb as the subtly nasty step mum. Jamie Demetriou  is brilliant as a dentally challenged, posh city boy. And of course creator and lead actress Phoebe Waller Bridge has star potentially written all over her. 

Flea bag is a great watch, challenging at times, sad in places, but funny throughout.  Watch it, I implore you, just maybe not with your mum and dad, it could get awkward.

DT

Fleabag is available on BBC iPlayer

Advertisements