The original stage play of Fleabag is on in the West End. Evie Prosser caught up with an NT Live screening at her local cinema
By Evie Prosser
Two observations about living in the country: (i) the Metropolitan life described in Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Fleabag can seem a long way distant, and (ii) watching a play like this in the West End is a logistical and financial challenge of considerable proportions.
|...it really is an expensive hassle to get to London and watch a show...|
All of which may lead you to assume that there would be little interest in Waller-Bridge’s name-making stage play out here in the sticks. And yet the seats of our local Odeon Cinema were pretty much stuffed with people wanting to catch the National Theatre Live performance of Fleabag last night.
So while the second observation rings true (it really is an expensive hassle to get to London and watch a show), the former is definitely wide of the mark.
Turns out every-day country folk enjoy ribald tales of female sex in the city just as much as our urban cousins. More so, if the laughter that pealed around Screen C is anything to go by.
The popularity of Fleabag owes a great deal to the phenomenally successful TV series of the same name. This was a breakout hit earlier in the year, with the second season prompting renewed interest in the first, and establishing Waller-Bridge as one of the brightest stars of UK theatre, TV and film.
That makes its inclusion in the NT Live initiative fantastically well judged. For those who missed a chance to buy tickets to the show in London’s Wyndham’s Theatre, or who simply want exposure to high-quality drama right on their doorstep, the scheme is brilliant. It brings the theatre experience to the UK’s provincial towns, with many audiences laughing and clapping along just as they would at the live show.
It helps that Fleabag is genuinely a laugh-out-loud play. After a slightly shaky start in which you feel the TV-series-loving audience wondering if the original play will live up to their expectations, the script really gets into its stride. Waller-Bridge owns the sparsely made stage, delivering a monologue that is occasionally punctuated by recordings of other characters but relies for its brilliance on her skills in mimicry, mime and comic timing.
In this latter area, she is unsurpassed. Helped by the fact she’s delivering her own lines, she knows exactly how long to pause before landing a joke’s denouement. And such is her poise, the merest flick of her hair or raise of an eyebrow is enough to have you in stitches.
She knows how to do pathos, too. The monologue moves like quicksilver across the whole emotional register: frequently you can’t work out if the tears in your eyes are prompted by mirth or sorrow.
|Fleabag deals with sexuality, body image, intellectual self-doubt, grief, truth-telling, family relationships, the nature of friendship…|
This, then, is the stuff of life. Not necessarily my life or your life. But a life, and one with enough texture that there’s something in its telling for everyone to enjoy.
Fleabag deals with sexuality, body image, intellectual self-doubt, grief, truth-telling, family relationships, the nature of friendship… too much to list, but all big themes that benefit from Waller-Bridge’s enviable blend of wisdom and a light touch.
Far from being overly worthy, though, Fleabag can at times feel like a stand-up comedy act. A telling line sees the character’s sister admonish her for delivering everything as if she were a comic. It is a moment in which Waller-Bridge’s own voice may be detected: although she’s keen to separate herself from her creation, it is hard not to view the play as at least partly autobiographical.
That points to Fleabag’s main appeal: it contains elements to which we can all relate. It feels real, and audiences like real – even when it is mediated through a stage and via a cinema screen.
Watching Fleabag as an NT Live performance was invigorating, therefore. I left with the same feeling I have when I do make it to town for a show: I was inspired, provoked and thoughtful, having been thoroughly immersed in a character and her story for the best part of an hour and a half.
As an initiative to bring the theatre to more places around the UK, NT Live is without rival. And given that for most of us Fleabag is first and foremost a TV production, it made perfect sense to see it on a screen rather than in the flesh.
That said, I can’t help but feel a bit regretful that we weren’t able to go to London and watch it at first hand. This play is so good, and the acting so mesmerizingly brilliant, I’d have loved to see it for myself. Then again, those trains to London do take an absolute age…
Published: 16 September 2019
© 2019 Just Recruitment Group Ltd
If you liked this article, you may enjoy: Three reasons why Killing Eve Series 2 was bound to fall flat (and why it’s actually still amazing)
You may also like: Five podcasts that will change your life
|Salary:||£29,000 - £30,000 per annum|
Just Recruitment is seeking an enthusiastic Assistant Branch Manager to join a company based in Chelmsford.
This is an excellent opportunity to join a growing organisation - offering a competitive salary and company bonus. Monday to Friday, 7.30am - 5pm and every other Saturday morning - overtime is paid.
Company bonus scheme.
Previous experience within a Builders / Plumbers merchants is essential.
|Sector:||Engineering and Manufacturing
|Salary:||£30,000 - £40,000 per annum|
Just Recruitment is recruiting for a Project Lead / Manager to join a company based in Sudbury Suffolk, on a fixed-term contract basis.
You will be an experienced project manager working with one of the company’s strategic suppliers, to move key electrical raw material components from their facility in the UK to the one in Romania.
The project manager will be the key liaison between the supplier and the company and is expected to keep the supplier on track with the expectations and standards of the team.
You will have experience in working within a manufacturing environment and moving either manufacturing lines or supply lines across borders.
You will also have Medical device or Pharmaceutical experience.
We are looking at 6-12 month fix term contract with relevant notice periods.
Salary is negotiable depending on experience.
|Sector:||Public Service and Administration
|Salary:||Competitive depending on experience|
Just Recruitment is looking for an Administrator on behalf of a company based in Sudbury.
The role involves being part of a small and friendly team on a part-time basis, working 2-3 days per week.
Duties to include:
May evolve to include other duties and responsibilities.
|Sector:||Creative Arts and Design
|Salary:||£25,000 - £30,000 per annum|
Are you a skilled designer looking for your next role?
Do you have luxury branding/magazine experience – including motion graphics (aftereffects) & digital design (social media etc)?
As a creative team member, you will be required to contribute to the wider creative thinking of a business based in Colchester, improving designs or presentations whilst working to tight deadlines.
You will be required to work in collaboration with the wider studio team and furthermore with the other departments across the business to produce the best possible outcome for each project worked on.
You will also be contributing towards the design presentations, so attention to detail and high standards in your work is a must.
Knowledge and skills:
This is an excellent opportunity for a creative individual to join a fast-paced organisation on the outskirts of Colchester.
Offering a great package - depending on skills and experience - free parking is available on site.
|Sector:||Creative Arts and Design
|Salary:||£25,000 - £30,000 per annum|
Are you a skilled Videographer/Video Editor looking for an exciting opportunity?
Do you have a creative/graphic design background?
This is an exciting time to join a growing organisation - based on the outskirts of Colchester.
Working as part of the creative team you will be involved in the planning, design and production of video content as directed.
This area of the business has big plans for growth and expansion, therefore this role has been created to drive us forward – you will have an eye for creativity, excellent organisation skills and a strong desire to produce standout video content.
Involvement at all stages of the creative process from interpreting the brief, keeping strategy and target audience in mind, working with the team to develop the storyboard, creating a visual style, planning the shoot days or production schedule, and ultimately providing our clients with final assets that are suitable for implementation across specific media channels.
Ensuring that projects are delivered on time and to the highest standard possible.
You will possess a positive and ‘can do’ attitude and have a highly organised approach you will be able to remain calm under pressure and quickly solve any problems in a professional manner.
Having exceptional attention to detail and communication skills, both written and verbal – you will have a genuine passion for creativity and design together with a strong affinity with video and a spirited desire to push themselves and the boundaries of what we can achieve.
This is an excellent opportunity to join a well-regarded organisation - offering an excellent package and opportunity to be instrumental in the growth of this area of the business.