Did Fleabag bag all the stars in the West End?
Phoebe Waller-Bridge's iconic monologue returned to the West End and critics have delivered their verdicts
Sarah Crompton, WhatsOnStage
"The power of Fleabag resides in the combination of moments of pure hilarity with an undertow of sadness so profound that it hurts. Every feeling flits across Phoebe Waller-Bridge's face; she never overplays anything but she makes us always remember the tragedy that her flawed heroine has brought into her own life. It's a terrific performance, beautifully realised, burnishing the legend that the star has already created. Welcome back."
Natasha Tripney, The Stage
"Even in a theatre that wasn't designed with intimacy in mind, it still works. That it does so is testament to how well-constructed a thing it is. The hour-long show is basically the blueprint for the first season of the television series – there are no sexy priests, not yet, and the tone is more caustic – so while we're introduced to Fleabag's sister, her widowed father, her dead best friend Boo and the guinea pig café, it's mainly about a young woman trying to navigate the world, who believes her desirability is the only thing to give her worth. It's hilarious, relatable and painful at the same time."
Holly Williams, The Independent
"Waller-Bridge impressively manages to make matters feel remarkably intimate and conspiratorial, drawing you in with those judgemental eyebrow swoops and wicked grins. She's working again with the original director Vicky Jones, who is also her best friend (on whom Boo, Fleabag's dead best friend in the show, was actually based). It seems like a bleak impetus for writing a play, even if it's taken them both to giddy heights."
Ann Treneman, The Times
'Her timing is perfect and the punchlines are good but, still, it does feel just a little, er, old hat. You cannot help but notice that you are watching Fleabag Mark 1. Where's Olivia Colman? Or that sexy priest? Or, indeed, why not mix in a little Villanelle from her latest show Killing Eve? How about some Bond? "We've had a ball," she said in an interview before the New York run, "but it's time to move on." But not without one more standing ovation, though."
Alice Jones, The i Paper
"This is Fleabag boiled down to her sticky essence. The jokes are funnier, the sex filthier, the asides more mischievous, and the shocks more visceral. Even in this earliest version, there is such richness to the text, so many layers to Fleabag's story – it's as much about what she tells us with all her brittle bravado, as what she tries to conceal – it is hard to credit that it is only just over an hour long."
Michael Billington, The Guardian
"Jones's production and Isobel Waller-Bridge's sound design enhance the performance by their essential simplicity and, although the show has been over-hyped, it is still quirky and original. It offers a remarkable portrait of a modern woman who shamelessly bares her soul and in so doing reveals her essential solitude."
Nick Curtis, Evening Standard
"The casual mention of a messy threesome, a certain non-procreative sex act, and the time her on-off boyfriend puked on then punched a bloke in a toilet remain outrageously funny. The Northern Line has never seemed as exciting as the way Fleabag describes it.Exposure has given the character a veneer of smugness, it's true. But an aching regret underpins the comedy and the way Fleabag's swagger leaks away here is deftly handled."