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Differences Between The TV Show ‘Fleabag’ & its Play

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Columbia Barnard chapter.

Known for writing Killing Eve, I saw Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s production of FLEABAG at Soho Playhouse on Friday night. Before the TV show was created, it was this one-woman play that introduced the world to the titular character Fleabag. It also won the Fringe First Award at the 2013 Edinburgh Festival Fringe. If you are a fan of television show but have not bought tickets to the sold-out show, here are some of the differences between the two versions of Fleabag’s story.

Warning: spoilers ahead for play and television show.

It’s darker

Although the TV show is dark, the play is even more so. Boo’s guinea pig Hilary ends up being squeezed to death by Fleabag after it was kicked by a one night stand who thought it was a rat. She does this because, after feeling detachment and depersonalization, she sees the rodent suffering and unable to do anything else, or really think rationally, she kills it.

The opening scene

In the TV show, she meets with a banker to ask for a loan to save her guinea pig cafe, but, in the play, she is instead in a job interview. This scene opens and closes the play. What remains is the connection she feels with the man after they both admit their horrible mistakes (his still being sexual assault) and try to work past them.

The Godmother

The Godmother is mentioned, but there’s unfortunately not much else to do with her. Olivia Colman was missed greatly.

The Bus Rodent

She meets the Bus Rodent (the guy with the small mouth) on the Tube, not a bus.

Fleabag’s bisexuality

Fleabag’s bisexuality is more clear (although season two of FLEABAG makes it completely canon). There is a character named Lily that Fleabag has a past with and wants to have casual sex with.

The breakup

For the life of me, I can’t remember what Harry leaves at Fleabag’s apartment every time they break up, but whatever it is, it’s not in the play.

Chatty Joe

In FLEABAG (TV) there is a character named Chatty Joe, but he isn’t that important. In the play he is much more important. A Scottish, ukulele, bar-hopping man who arrives to the cafe at 11am every day to drink tea and talk with Fleabag and, before her death, Boo. After having a couple tough days, Fleabag tries to have sex with him (he’s twice her age), but he refuses, imparting to her that life is not only about sex and that he actually does come in every day to just talk to her.

The fourth wall

Fleabag breaks the fourth wall a lot more in the show, since most of it is her talking to the audience about her life, occasionally acting out conversations between herself and others, using accents and body language to get the point across. All of it is extremely well done, and my absolute favorite imitation is Bus Rodent, her mouth gets so small!

Overall much of the play and show was quite similar:

  • Anal sex dude

  • Boo storyline

  • The feminist talk where she wears the sweater she stole from her sister, and where both her sister and her raise their hands when asked if they would trade five years of life for the perfect body

  • The drunk girl she helps but also sorta asks out

  • How her sister doesn’t believe her husband tried to touch Fleabag

But still it was an absolute wonder to see and even be in the presence of the incredible Phoebe Waller-Bridge.