National Theatre Live: Fleabag ★★★★★


Fleabag /ˈfliːbæɡ/ noun[c] - UK informal: a dirty and/or unpleasant person or animal. - Cambridge Dictionary
Fleabag is a young woman living in London. She works at a Guinea pig themed café. She isn't the luckiest woman when it comes to the love department. She comes from a dysfunctional bourgeois family, who has its skeletons living on the attic. She has her very own attic skeletons. She has a complicated relationship with her more successful yet as emotionally unstable sister. She's a sex addict, she's irresponsible, she's coping with adulthood. She's ragged and full of traumas enough for Freud to come back to life and write a whole new book on psychological pathologies. She's a true fleabag - a dirty and unpleasant person. And she's a true mirror. She slyly looks at us, with mischief in her eyes, commenting on every situation - be it with words or just with that look (sometimes a look is enough to say everything there is to say). Through this sly look she involves us, her accomplices, in her story - in those moments reflecting us on her, turning her dirty fleabagness into the most pristine mirror where we find our reflection. Fleabag is a woman living in London, but she's also all of us - we're all fleabags. Phoebe Waller-Bridge constructs one of the greatest comedy series of our time, using comedy brilliantly to explore the dirtiest and darkest corners of the human condition that we would rather not look at, making us laugh, cry, and, in the process, make us understand ourselves better. Written with wit and with the most crushing honesty, we enter the world of a dysfunctional woman in the most original way. We are involved in her story, acting as her confidants, and we are exposed to her direct thoughts - the ones she wouldn't dare expose in the real world. Through the comedy, we are lulled with hilarity into the most impactful emotional trauma present in her character. She's surrounded by a deep sadness, a deep depression, a deep existentialism, and a deep trauma. Under the bright comedy, lies the dark sludge of personal trauma, making this much more than just another comedy series. It's a dark humour, the darkest kind without having to be necessarily morbid, the kind only the Brits can do, moving us with a deep relatability because every single one of us, under the surface that we construct around ourselves, have that pool of black traumatic sludge. And the way Waller-Bridge explores this is absolutely gruellingly powerful, being able to deal with both her own trauma and our trauma in a more effective way than if this was a drama, being able to dig deeper into it. Fleabag is both extremely hilarious and extremely heartbreaking, and the titular main character is probably the most relatable TV character I have ever seen. Every episode is a rollercoaster of the most varied emotions there can be, from the most elevating levity to the most crushing depression, with the emotions going from one corner of the spectrum to the complete opposite in a matter of seconds in the most brilliant and unexpected way. Every episode is brilliantly directed and written, being filmed beautifully and wittingly, perfectly immersing us in the idiosyncratic world of Fleabag - truly, we are inside her mind. One of the most refreshing aspects of this series is the way that Fleabag embraces her own flaws, not trying to please the audience, but involving us in them and, that way, making her even more relatable - and it's extremely refreshing to see a female character portrayed in such a way. And if the first season is good, the second season is absolutely bonkers of perfection in every level possible. Every performance is brilliant on its own terms. Phoebe Waller-Bridge is absolutely incredible all throughout, having such an hilarious presence - whenever she looked at us I could barely hold myself together - and giving all the emotional punches in all the right times and in the most brilliant way. And the rest of the cast is all absolutely stellar - Olivia Colman, Sian Clifford, Bill Paterson, Brett Gelman, Andrew Scott (the hottest priest ever, oh my lord 😰😰😰) - there isn't a single misstep. Truly, I fell in love with absolutely every single thing in this series as it progresses and it truly became one of my favourite series of all time. It's funny without being superficial, using humour to explore the modern human traumas in the most brilliant way, not being afraid of diving the deepest and darkest corners of those traumas, and that way making us grow with the character that we end up falling in love with. Fleabag is a woman living in London, but that's not all she is - she is also all of us - a ragged unpleasant bunch, struggling through this thing called life, just looking for that thing called love.