Barbican NT Live Fleabag Review

The word Fleabag has become synonymous with Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s renowned TV series, however, the original play is what really shows the creativity and humour behind this gripping story.

Barbican NT Live Fleabag Review

There is always the question of whether recorded theatre has the ability to transcend the screen. This experience proves otherwise as the plush comfy Barbican seats provide a much more inviting audience experience than your typical theatre seats and the recorded audience reactions help recreate that live atmosphere. This does however occasionally feel slightly like your American TV sitcom canned laughter when the occasional 2019 joke hasn’t quite aged as well as expected. Having said that the filming captured really well the simplicity of the staging only switching between three shots and which gave a real proximity with the performance. Waller-Bridge’s ability to look into camera as if you were in the same space as her really helps bring the essence of what theatre is about in a filmic format. These well thought out ways of how to make theatre connected to the audience highlights NT Live’s ability to bring the best of British Theatre in a more accessible and lifelong manner. 

However Fleabag's success is all down to Waller-Bridge’s performance which makes this 2023 encore of her 2019 performance truly magnetic. Ultimately the whole show is thanks to her captivating storytelling in every millisecond of Fleabag’s journey. Waller-Bridge's elasticity of body and voice brings to life the various characters that Fleabag drags into her life. We see her world through Fleabag’s eyes as the empty stage transforms into the various spaces she torpedoes through. The play oozes with humour whether it be the smallest physical gesture, the build-up of tension, her impeccable comic timing or with her punchlines upon punchlines. All this acts as the front to the vulnerability and darkness lying beneath and which acts as a mirror to question your own morals. This is no more beautifully shown than when she looks straight into the camera and affirms, ‘People are shit’.

The story which explores what it means to be a woman in a modern world is so incredibly relatable even 4 years after its premiere. It gives us the permission to forgive ourselves when we don’t reach standards that we hold up to ourselves. A healing and hilarious remedy for any troubled heart suffering from the modern world.

Header Image Credit: Photo: Matt Humphrey


Monica Cox

Monica Cox Voice Reviewer

Monica is a theatre and film director, writer and dramaturg with a particular interest in queer and female stories. She has a degree in Spanish and Russian and a Masters in Theatremaking.

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