Phoebe Waller-Bridge's one woman play, which inspired the hit BBC TV series, is a perfectly formed theatrical pearl.
I'd have loved to see this brilliantly delivered monologue before seeing the series on TV but maybe it helped to bring the characters to life even more vividly. I can't have been the only person watching the NT Live broadcast tonight who had the actors of dead friend Boo, sister Clare and ex-boyfriend Harry in mind.
Writer and sole performer Waller-Bridge, occupying a lone chair centre stage, vividly creates the self-obsessed, sexually voracious character of Fleabag and powerfully evokes a whole host of characters, including a particularly tender portrayal of guinea-pig cafe regular customer Joe.
Combining laugh out loud hilarity (typified in a perfectly delivered anecdote about Harry vomiting in a restaurant toilet) and frank sexual content (periods, porn and masturbation) with moments of genuine pathos is no mean feat. Directed by Vicky Jones, Fleabag manages this mix of mania and melancholy beautifully.
The interview scenario at the start of the show works nicely in establishing a character verging on desperation. There's an immediate connection with the audience, a sense of comradeship with a woman clearly struggling to hold it all together. As we get to know her throughout the show this connection strengthens, culminating in a pained confession at the end.
Waller-Bridge's character has become a flawed and familiar friend to millions of TV viewers. Thanks to NT Live, the opportunity to spend some more time with her in cinemas up and down the country is available to all. And it's a very welcome one.
Fleabag will be broadcast into cinemas again on Monday 30th September. See NTLive for details.