Ruby Richardson (Merritt Wever) walks away from her ordinary suburban life when she receives a text from her former college boyfriend Billy Johnson (Domhnall Gleeson) that simply reads ‘RUN’ – a message that instigates a decades-old pact they put in place years ago.
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Yes, Phoebe Waller-Bridge does indeed have a recurring, supporting role in this bold new eight-part HBO comedy, and she’s also an exec producer. But it’s mainly the creation of Waller-Bridge’s longtime collaborator Vicky Jones, who directed the original stage production of Fleabag. The ingeniously relatable premise asks what would happen if one of those college-age pacts made between two rash young people actually comes to pass now they’re grown adults living proper lives.
Merritt Wever (Unbelievable) plays Ruby Richardson, who abandons her routine suburban existence to meet up with her college boyfriend, Billy Johnson (Domhnall Gleeson), with whom she made a pact 17 years previously: that if either one of them texted the word “run” and the other replied with the same, they would drop whatever they were doing, meet in Grand Central Station and travel across America by train.
It’s instantly thrilling to watch Ruby taking the maverick decision to abandon everything (including her husband) and go on this preposterous adventure with a man she hasn’t seen for nearly two decades, and indeed the opening episode is directed by Kate Dennis (The Handmaid’s Tale) in the style of a breathlessly paced thriller. When Ruby comes face to face with old flame Billy on an Amtrak train, the tension is ratcheted up so effectively, the show almost feels like The Girl On The Train, but funny.
Any worries about the credulity-stretching elements of the whole premise soon fall away when Wever and Gleeson start bouncing off each other so beautifully, and we fully believe they would go on this emotionally dangerous journey together. We’ll run, not walk, to find out where they end up.
A brilliant comedy premise, thrillingly executed and quite unlike anything else on TV right now.