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Sunday, 11 October 2009 14:04

Broadway Review: "Wishful Drinking" starring Carrie Fisher

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Carrie Fisher in Wishful Drinking

Carrie Fisher in Wishful Drinking
Photo: Joan Marcus

Considering that Carrie Fisher has been performing her one-woman show Wishful Drinking since 2006 it is as fresh as the cinnamon buns on her head were in 1977. The show is a two hour skip along the surface of Fisher’s roller-coaster life as the off-spring of Hollywood darlings Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds. “Blue-blood white trash” as she calls them.

Fisher has particular fun with the audience drawing them into her story and even onto the stage to don the cinnamon bun wig she wore as Princess Leia. She opens the show singing “Happy Days are Here Again” as she tosses confetti about like Rip Taylor (to whom she does give credit, sort of).

In a particularly funny segment “Hollywood Inbreeding 101” Fisher provides a tutorial to her sordid “family” tree. It comes complete with visual aids in the form of a board with headshots of the players starting at the top with Eddie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds, Elizabeth Taylor and Michael Todd. After Taylor’s husband Todd dies, Fisher left Reynolds for Taylor. This culminates in the ultimate question of whether Fisher’s daughter dating Elizabeth Taylor’s grandson is incest.

Fisher doesn’t shy away from her two marriages to singer Paul Simon and Hollywood super agent Bryan Lourde. Lourde left her for another man. “Turning men gay is a super power of mine” she exclaims proudly. While she doesn’t shy away from these painful memories neither does she give you anything but a comedic take on each of them; right down to the death of a dear gay Republican friend in her own bed.

Jeff Styles and Carrie Fisher
Carrie Fisher and Jeff Styles in
Wishful Drinking

The evening I saw the show my date for the evening was my friend Jeff. Jeff happened to be the person that Fisher chose to come onstage to attempt sex with a life-size Princess Leia sex toy after Fisher gives up because her alter-ego “is heterosexual.” Fisher makes her stage guest wear a Princess Leia wig of his own. The curtain goes down on the first act with my friend Jeff being dry-humped on the sofa center stage by Carrie Fisher, both of them wearing large cinnamon buns on their head. A photo they took together also makes an appearance on the back screen of the set during the closing of the show and is shown at the right.

Fisher’s cathartic telling of her life’s story (even if it is just from a cursory glance) runs two hours with an intermission. It’s jam packed full of self-deprecating zingers but devoid of any real depth. We are given an opportunity to see what it might be like to be Fisher’s best friend. But the sort of best friend who hides the pain behind humor.

Tony Taccone has done a terrific job in directing Ms. Fisher. The scenic design by Alexander V. Nichols is cute and not overwrought. Up center is a divided screen upon which photos of Fisher’s life are shown larger than life. Considering the lack of depth into her self-examination, this piece could have been trimmed by 15 minutes and done without an intermission at a neat 90 minutes. But I can’t complain, and you won’t either, you will laugh.

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Read complete production credits at the Internet Broadway Database

Review Roundup:

Michael Kuchwara for Associated Press - "Fisher is a raconteur in the best sense of the word. She knows how to tell a story. And "Wishful Drinking," her hilariously perceptive journey through a world of celebrity and self-destruction, is chock-full of funny, fascinating tales."

David Rooney for Variety - “Nobody needs another poor-little-me solo piece about overcoming personal demons, even from a writer-performer as witty as Fisher. But from its title to its first spoken line, ‘Hi, I'm Carrie Fisher, and I'm an alcoholic,’ the show suggests a cathartic cleansing in the manner of Elaine Stritch at Liberty.

Ben Brantley for The New York Times – “After the show, you’ll probably start to think that Ms. Fisher didn’t really tell you everything. But as long as you’re watching her, you experience the illusion of extremely funny, subliminally sad full-frontal confession.”

John Simon for Bloomburg.com – “There are two antithetical ways of viewing Carrie Fisher’s autobiographical monodrama, or monocomedy, Wishful Drinking on Broadway. It is like a head charming in profile, but seen full face rather plain and even slightly vulgar.”

Last modified on Saturday, 29 May 2010 23:45