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Who are we? Aren’t we the characters, we try to become in front of others – our family, friends, colleagues? If we are the characters we portray, then who are we really? Do we really know ourselves? And isn’t our life a never-ending struggle to hold ourselves, our relationships, our work together and simultaneously try to reach a point where we’d be comfortable to say that we know ourselves?
Fleabag is a bunch of characters played by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, accompanied by other actors playing as various characters. A tragicomedy, Fleabag is adapted from a monologue play by Waller-Bridge herself, that was first performed in 2013. It is about the life of young woman living in London who is lonely and is struggling hard to save her Guinea Pig-themed Café she had opened with her friend Boo, a person she was most comfortable with. Her struggle is intensified by the fact that Boo is now dead and her inability to cope up with it and also the fact that she is responsible for her death.
Amidst this, are the masks she has to put on when she is with her sister, father, stepmother and a number of men she tries to be with owing to her immensely high sexual desire. During all this, Fleabag makes you a part of her life, her journey by constantly taking the masks off and look at you and talk to you about what she is exactly feeling while whatever she is doing: having sex, talking to the man she has just met on a train or while she is at her father’s house to remember her mother on her death anniversary. She might spurt out long sentences, just a few words or just slightly wink to let you know what she is actually thinking. The fun part of this tragic series comes from this breaking of the fourth wall and also makes Phoebe Waller-Bridge a well-deserved winner of the 2019 Emmy Award for the Best Female Lead Actor in a Comedy Series. We have seen the breaking of fourth wall earlier, but the way it is used in Fleabag is quite different and difficult. Fleabag, while she is talking to some other character, looks at you, blurts out a few words, goes back and continues her conversation.
The play, a monologue does the same, but there, the fourth wall does not exist at all. For the camera, it is quite different. There are other characters the actor has to react and talk to. Therefore, delivering your lines, breaking the fourth wall and voicing your thoughts for the audience and going back and continuing your dialogue is certainly not an easy task. Phoebe Waller-Bridge manages to master this perfectly, thereby leaving you to see what she is doing and what she is thinking at the same time. Along with Phoebe Waller-Bridge, all other actors do a commendable job, especially Sian Clifford as Clair, Fleabag’s sister and Andrew Scott as the Priest with whom Fleabag falls in love with in season 2.
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A series containing 12 episodes (6 in each season), Fleabag is a cleverly written piece going back and forth in time, revealing episodes from Fleabag’s life and culminating into an unimagined climax towards the end of the season that leaves you deeply moved and sad but hopeful for Fleabag before breaking our hearts completely again. Though primarily a comedy, the series ends on a tragic note and the song This Feeling by Alabama Shakes that plays at the end of the last episode of the second season perfectly conveys what Fleabag’s emotions and what we feel for her while she walks away from the camera…
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I just kept hoping, I just kept hoping The way would become clear I spent all this time tryna play now I found my way here
See, I've been having me a real hard time But it feels so nice to know I'm gonna be alright
So I just kept dreaming, yeah, I just kept dreaming It wasn't very hard I spent all this time tryna figure out why Nobody on my side
See, I've been having me a real good time But it feels so nice to know I'm gonna be alright
I love to read, write, watch and study films.