How Fleabag got kick-started

With Fleabag the hottest ticket in the West End right now, I’ve been thinking back to when I interviewed Phoebe Waller-Bridge in 2014 about the show’s inception.

It wasn’t the first time we’d met. That was in early 2013 when she told me about the challenges of appearing naked on stage in Jack Thorne’s Mydidae at Trafalgar Studios. But that’s another story.

Later that same year Phoebe performed Fleabag for the first time at the Edinburgh Fringe and at London’s Soho Theatre.

I caught up with Phoebe again at the Soho Theatre when Fleabag returned there in 2014.  By now the show had more buzz than a bag of bees.

This time I was writing a BBC News piece on how theatre productions of all sizes were embracing the world of crowdfunding.

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Original Fleabag publicity image (DryWrite)

Phoebe and director Vicky Jones welcomed me backstage after the show. They told me how their company DryWrite made a promo video and sourced almost £4,000 via Kickstarter to help fund Fleabag’s run in Edinburgh.

“We thought it was too good to be true,” Phoebe said. “We watched other people’s videos and we thought this is where we should be.”

As you can still see on the original Kickstarter page, 54 people stumped up amounts ranging from £10 to £500 to help the show on its way. The script wasn’t even finished when the money started to come in.

You can read my original BBC article here.

The video on the Kickstarter page is worth a watch for an insight into how this one-woman show helped turn Phoebe Waller-Bridge into the household name behind the Fleabag TV series, Killing Eve and the new James Bond film No Time To Die.

“There are some things I just want to say out loud in front of an audience,” Phoebe says cheekily in the video amid the pleas for money.

One imagines that finances aren’t quite such a problem now. I remarked to a friend who paid £65 for a seat at Fleabag’s sold-out run at Wyndham’s Theatre that it worked out at exactly £1 a minute.

But, as those original investors must have felt back in 2013, it will be worth every penny.

Fleabag is at Wyndham’s Theatre, London, until 14 September