Fleabag created and performed by Phoebe Waller - Bridge
Post by Jenna Kunselman - Carnegie Stage Front of House Manager
While we all stay at home in efforts to save lives and flatten the curve, Phoebe Waller-Bridge aims to satisfy our boredom by giving us the opportunity to watch Fleabag live from the comfort of our couches. In an effort to raise money for the U.K.’s health services and freelancers dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, her one-woman performance is streaming on Amazon for just $5. Since I have not yet found the time to watch the critically acclaimed television series, I thought now is a better time than ever to familiarize myself with the story that inspired it all.
In the first few seconds of the show, it’s obvious that Phoebe is a mess. We are introduced during an awkward job interview that is clearly going south. We meet Phoebe when she’s at a particular low point in life. Her boyfriend dumped her, she can’t afford to save her failing business, and she is grieving the loss of her best friend, Boo. The story behind her death is quite an uncommon one and leaves us feeling sorry for everyone involved. Phoebe is left to run a guinea pig themed cafe which lingers under the tragic shadow of Boo’s death, in the company of Boo’s pet guinea pig, Hilary, who was a gift from Phoebe and the cafe’s inspiration.
As the story unfolds, Phoebe describes her toxic and strange relationships with her ex, her sister, her brother in law, her father, a stranger on the subway, and her favorite regular customer at the cafe. She is comically open and honest about her sexual history, tendencies, and turn-ons, shamelessly sharing stories most of us would keep to ourselves. She describes how her sex drive distracts her from her priorities, insisting that she’s not obsessed with sex, she just can’t stop thinking about it. Phoebe tells us of times when her sexual interests override rational thoughts or actions, and we start to sympathize with her struggles as it is clear she lacks control, but wants to be different. She admits to having little to no morals, joking that she wishes to use her combination of bad morals and intense sex drive to keep the cafe afloat.
Boo’s death hangs heavy on Phoebe, and throughout the show we learn why and how she longs for the way things could have been different. Phoebe tells her story with a combination of self deprecation and relatable, quick witted thoughts that ring true with a sour taste of reality. We can all learn something from the way Phoebe copes with misfortune, tragedy, and self acceptance. After seeing the stage play, I am anxious to binge watch the highly acclaimed Fleabag TV series!