Skip to main content

Phoebe Waller-Bridge - Fleabag

Phoebe Waller-Bridge is a busy woman. The thirty-two year old actress who burst onto our TV screens as writer and star of Fleabag, the tragi-comic sort of sit-com about a supposedly independent woman on the verge is currently overseeing Killing Eve, her new TV drama which she's written for BBC America. As an actress, Waller-Bridge is also filming a big screen project which we can't talk about, but which has already been outed as being part of the ongoing Star Wars franchise.

These are both pretty good reasons why Waller-Bridge won't be appearing in the brief Edinburgh Festival Fringe revival of the original stage play of Fleabag, when it opens next week at the Underbelly, where it was first unleashed to the world in 2013. In her place, Maddie Rice will take on the role of the potty-mouthed anti-heroine after touring Vickie Jones' production for Waller-Bridge and Jones' DryWrite company in association with Soho Theatre. This doesn't mean Waller-Bridge has turned her back on what turned out to be her calling card now she's hit the big time. Far from it.

“I'm so pleased it's in the safe and wonderful hands of Maddie,” says Waller-Bridge. “It's because of Edinburgh we found Maddie as well. We initially thought we were looking for a really dramatic actress who could do all the dark stuff, when actually it's about getting someone who can be funny. But Maddie's really made it her own. She's a different Fleabag, but still has the same heart, and I feel really excited about people seeing where it started.”

Fleabag's roots actually go back a bit further, to a spoken word night Waller-Bridge was persuaded to take part in.

“I had done a little bit of writing,” she says, “and a friend asked me to do a ten minute storytelling slot at this stand-up thing. I was really nervous, but but I thought I'll never get a chance to do this again, and that was a really cathartic moment that made me put my writing where my mouth was, and this character started falling out of me that was very personal to my and my friends.

“Then when I did it at the spoken-word night, the audience got really behind it, and this woman who'd had a few glasses of wine said I should take it to Edinburgh. A producer who was there overheard hat, and the next day she rang up and said, I've got you a slot, and the ten minutes I did at the spoken-word night ended up being the first ten minutes of the play.”

Waller-Bridge says the stage version of Fleabag was “probably the biggest challenge of my writing and acting life so far. Because it wasn't something I'd planned to do, or was particularly yearning to do, I was blindly writing this fifty minutes of material, filling it with gag after gag so you'd never get bored. I wanted it to be furious and truthful, and something that spoke to me, and if it bombed then it bombed. A lot of people talk about how raw it is, and I think that's where it came from. It was a free pass to do something wild.”

With Fleabag commissioned as a TV pilot shortly afterwards, Waller-Bridge was able to expand on the play's ideas beyond a solo show in a way that has now come to define one of the most fearlessly upfront depictions of young women today. It also meant that another script in the TV slush pile, Crashing, was picked up, filmed and broadcast in a way that set the liberated tone of Waller-Bridge's writing style. It was the dark humour of Fleabag, however, that tapped into something that seemed very now.

“When you see someone like Fleabag trying so hard, you're with them,” Waller-Bridge speculates on Fleabag's appeal, “and then when the mask slips and you see how much pain she's in, there's something about humanity that gets you. Even if it doesn't relate to your own life, I thin you can still feel it. It's a rare thing to create a character who people connect with, and who I get to play myself.”

A second series of Fleabag seems likely, though one has yet to be confirmed. In the meantime, Waller-Bridge has Killing Eve - “an eight part drama about female assassins” - and the film we can't talk about to be getting on with.

“Having to let go of Fleabag for a few months is a good thing,” she says, “but I can't wait to get back to her. I'm already starting to miss her.”

Fleabag, Underbelly, August 21-27, 5.15pm.
www.underbellyedinburgh.co.uk

The Herald, August 15th 2017

ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Big Gold Dreams – A Story of Scottish Independent Music 1977-1989

Disc 1
1. THE REZILLOS (My Baby Does) Good Sculptures (12/77)  2. THE EXILE Hooked On You (8/77)
3. DRIVE Jerkin’ (8/77)
4. VALVES Robot Love (9/77)
5. P.V.C. 2 Put You In The Picture (10/77)
6. JOHNNY & THE SELF ABUSERS Dead Vandals (11/77)
7. BEE BEE CEE You Gotta Know Girl (11/77)
8. SUBS Gimme Your Heart (2/78)
9. SKIDS Reasons (No Bad NB 1, 4/78)
10. FINGERPRINTZ Dancing With Myself (1/79) 
11. THE ZIPS Take Me Down (4/79)
12. ANOTHER PRETTY FACE All The Boys Love Carrie (5/79) 
13. VISITORS Electric Heat (5/79)
14. JOLT See Saw (6/79)
15. SIMPLE MINDS Chelsea Girl (6/79)
16. SHAKE Culture Shock (7/79)
17. HEADBOYS The Shape Of Things To Come (7/79)
18. FIRE EXIT Time Wall (8/79)
19. FREEZE Paranoia (9/79)
20. FAKES Sylvia Clarke (9/79)
21. TPI She’s Too Clever For Me (10/79)
22. FUN 4 Singing In The Showers (11/79)
23. FLOWERS Confessions (12/79)
24. TV21 Playing With Fire (4/80)
25. ALEX FERGUSSON Stay With Me Tonight (1980)

1. THE REZILLOS I Can’t Stand My Baby (Sensible FAB 18/77) If it wasn’t for T…

Clybourne Park

Adam Smith Theatre, Kirkcaldy Four Stars
It’s a case of whoops, there goes the neighbourhood twice over in Rapture Theatre’s revival of Bruce Norris’ Pulitzer Prize-winning play, which opens in 1959 in the same Chicago suburb where Lorraine Hansberry’s drama, A Raisin in the Sun, which appeared that year, is set. Here, Robin Kingsland’s Russ and his wife Bev, played by Jackie Morrison, are preparing to move out of their now almost empty des-res following a family tragedy.
Unknown to them, the bargain basement price tag has enabled a black family to move in, with Jack Lord’s uptight Karl a self-appointed spokesperson for the entire ‘hood. Russ and Bev’s black maid Francine (Adelaide Obeng) and her husband Albert (Vinta Morgan), meanwhile, bear witness to a barrage of everyday racism. Fast forward half a century, and a white family are trying to buy the same house, albeit with a heap of proposed changes which the black couple representing the block’s now much more diverse community aren’t…

Losing Touch With My Mind - Psychedelia in Britain 1986-1990

DISC 1
1. THE STONE ROSES  - Don’t Stop 2. SPACEMEN 3  - Losing Touch With My Mind (Demo) 3. THE MODERN ART  - Mind Train 4. 14 ICED BEARS  - Mother Sleep 5. RED CHAIR FADEAWAY - Myra 6. BIFF BANG POW!  - Five Minutes In The Life Of Greenwood Goulding 7. THE STAIRS - I Remember A Day 8. THE PRISONERS - In From The Cold 9. THE TELESCOPES  - Everso 10. THE SEERS  - Psych Out 11. MAGIC MUSHROOM BAND - You Can Be My L-S-D 12. THE HONEY SMUGGLERS  - Smokey Ice-Cream 13. THE MOONFLOWERS - We Dig Your Earth 14. THE SUGAR BATTLE  - Colliding Minds 15. GOL GAPPAS  - Albert Parker 16. PAUL ROLAND - In The Opium Den 17. THE THANES - Days Go Slowly By 18. THEE HYPNOTICS  - Justice In Freedom (12" Version)

1. THE STONE ROSES Don’t Stop ( SilvertoneORE1989)
The trip didn’t quite start here for what sounds like Waterfall played backwards on The Stone Roses’ era-defining eponymous debut album, but it sounds like it. Vocalist Ian Brown and guitarist John Squire met in 1980 at Altrincham Grammar School. With bassist …