Theatre review: Fleabag (Tron Theatre)

Fleabag
Fleabag

Originally staged at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival last year, scabrous monologue Fleabag has won a deserved UK-wide tour during 2015.

Writer Phoebe Waller-Bridge originally played the Fleabag - a pornography-obessed young woman who spins a story of a modern world where the need for instant gratification ruins relationships and lives.

She’s now handed the baton on to actress Maddie Rice, who brings a slightly softer sensibility to a character who manages to shock and charm in equal measure.

The story takes in a young cafe owner, her tragic best friend, a guinea pig and a series of ill-advised dalliances.

It’s all contained within a superfluous framing device concerning a job interview going awry which bookends the central plot.

Aside from this single (mercifully short) weakness it’s a beautifully contructed piece of theatre which plays with tone and the audience’s expectations throughout.

The fact that such a frank, funny and intelligent show of female sexuality should arrive in Glasgow in the same week as the airbrushed innuendo of ‘50 Shades of Grey’ only serves to make its examination of destructive disfunction all the more powerful.

It’s also very, very funny. There are lines here which would not be out of place in the set of an edgy club comic.

Meanwhile, the charming anthropomorphism of the guinea pig character offers some delightful physical comedy to break up the more tawdry elements.

Waller-Bridge’s ear for language makes the profane near poetic, and Rice adds a layer of likeability which was arguably missing from the original.

The staging is simple and clinical - a single stool and series of spotlights - focusing attention on the weight of the words.

There’s no doubt that Fleabag is one which will divide audiences, but if you are able to set aside the initial shock value there’s a performance of real substance to enjoy.