Before she was the star of her own Amazon Prime series and before she gave audiences two of the most memorable characters in recent years as the writer of Killing Eve, Phoebe Waller-Bridge took the London theatre world by storm in her solo show Fleabag.
An immediate sensation at the 2013 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Fleabag follows one woman in the aftermath of a tragedy as she struggles to come to terms with her new reality. The show is also very much a comedy, in keeping with what has quickly become Waller-Bridge’s calling card: Dark, scabrous humor highlighting the inanity of tragedy and the ways in which one can watch oneself making terrible choices while powerless to stop.
Now, fans of the Amazon Prime adaptation—which just finished filming its second season, complete with guest stars Kristin Scott Thomas and Fiona Shaw—have an opportunity to see Waller-Bridge perform the show live at Manhattan’s Soho Playhouse, where it will run through April 14.
Though she hasn’t performed the original stage version in some time, Waller-Bridge is more excited than nervous to team up again with director Vicky Jones and return to Fleabag’s shoes—particularly since, while the character has matured and evolved over two seasons of a television show, the stage version has remained unchanged.
“I’d always wanted to bring it to New York,” Waller-Bridge says over the phone, shortly after wrapping the second season. “It had been a pipe dream for so long that I’m fulfilling a dream rather than adding something on to the end.”
And though time has passed since she first wrote the show, Waller-Bridge calls herself a “purist” in terms of not changing the script. “There’s a British geography joke that will not land, so I might tweak there but other than that, no. I’ve got to stay true to it.” Though she admits with a laugh that she may also adjust a line in which Fleabag describes herself as 26 years old. “It’s a really small space,” she says dryly, a perfect example of the singular sensibility that makes her a natural fit for New York.
The feeling is mutual. “I feel a deep affinity for New Yorkers,” she says. “And that’s probably irrational, but I feel like New York is kind of like that cousin you see three times a year. There are the strange relatives you dread seeing, but there’s that one naughty cousin you can’t wait to see. That’s New York!”