Phoebe Waller-Bridge
Underbelly, Cowgate

Phoebe Waller-Bridge Credit: Richard Davenport
Phoebe Waller-Bridge Credit: Richard Davenport

This might stretch the credibility a little too far but here goes. Had Alan Bennett been young, female, writing today and performing with a plummy southern accent, this is what a latter-day Talking Head might have looked like.

Phoebe Waller-Bridge is one of our most talented young actresses around and also produces through DryWrite. Now, she has turned her hand to writing and this solo show, directed by Vicky Jones, is remarkably accomplished for a self-performing tyro.

To be fair, the evening’s success relies a great deal on her acting skills, the young lady drawing every inch of pathos from what looks on the surface like a comic tale.

For an hour, the narrator takes us through the kind of problems that many will instantly recognise.

Life has been down on Fleabag. Her guinea-pig-themed café has bitten the dust following her business partner’s accidental cycle-lane suicide, which in turn was inspired by Boo’s own partner’s infidelities.

To make matters worse, the protagonist has also broken up with her life partner and doesn’t get on that well with the family.

Sex doesn’t so much rear its ugly head as take over proceedings at times but that is probably merely a reflection of our obsessions today.

This situation is fully milked for its humorous potential, while there are genuine moments of deep, thought-provoking reflection to ensure that Fleabag is way above the normal run of Fringe monologues.

For anyone that is not shaken by adult themes or contemporary language, this beautifully-performed, tautly-written play, which could soon become a cult, should prove a highlight of their trip to Edinburgh. Londoners will get a chance to enjoy the performance at Soho through September.

Reviewer: Philip Fisher

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