DAVID reviews

3 October 2017

Park Village sign Fleabag director Harry Bradbeer.

by Jason Stone


While Phoebe Waller-Bridge understandably won most of the plaudits for her self-penned black comedy Fleabag, director Harry Bradbeer deserved a lot of credit for helping her convert a one-woman stage show into one of the most talked about TV shows of 2016.

Bradbeer - who has just joined the roster at Park Village - has worked on a number of high profile TV shows but it's Fleabag which really demonstrates that he has the skills to make it as a TVC director.

The comedy in Fleabag is so dark that it poses a specific challenge for a director. Lean too heavily towards the comedy and it will lack emotional depth but rely too much on its poignancy and it won't be funny. Bradbeer used all his accumulated wisdom to negotiate the incredibly delicate path between these two potential pitfalls.

In this clip from 'Fleabag', the title character (Waller-Bridge) is lying in bed with her best friend Boo (jenny Rainsford) and discussing their insecurities. Despite transitioning between a POV perspective and a more traditional camera angle, it has a naturalistic quality that almost makes it look like an out-take.

Given the current vogue for the appearance of authenticity, the ability to draw this kind of performance from a pair of actors has to be considered a significant asset.

In this scene, Fleabag and her sister Claire (Sian Clifford) are waiting to be let into an idyllic retreat. As they anxiously stand on the doorstep a distant shout provokes a joke from the title character which - while typical of the programme's edgy content - probably had an entire floor of BBC bureaucrats holding their breath when this episode was broadcast.

The only character in Fleabag who was, arguably, less palatable than Waller-Bridge's was her step-mother (Olivia Colman). The two sparred throughout the series but in this scene it's unquestionably the latter who has the upper hand as she manages to embarrass the unembarrassable Fleabag.

Originally an assistant to the great John Schlesinger, Harry Bradbeer launched his own career as a director with a couple of episodes of fast-moving 1990s sensation 'This Life'.

Over the following twenty years, he has worked on a huge number of comedies and dramas before being selected to breathe television life into Phoebe Waller Bridge's notorious anti-heroine.

Park Village's Tom Webb is extremely excited at the prospect of providing Bradbeer with an opportunity to expand the scope of his output to TVCs and there's little question that he will deliver if the right script comes his way.

Contact Tom Webb at Park Village for more information on 020 7387 8077 or via email on tom@parkvillage.co.uk.

David Reviews is hand-crafted by Lovely Lenzie Ltd, 7 Seven Sisters, Lenzie, Glasgow, G66 3AW. Editor: Jason Stone. Phone: 0141 776 7766. E-mail: jason@davidreviews.com.