Review: Wishful Drinking
A review of Carrie Fisher's brilliant one woman show
Wishful Drinking is in essence, a memoir of Fisher’s “Hollywood Hangover”, as she refers to it. With wry, self-depreciating wit, flecked with oft times hilariously acerbic undertones, Fisher adeptly navigates the audience through the absurdity that has been her existence.
She commences the show with an anecdote reiterating the time in 2005 that she awoke to find her gay Republican friend dead next to her in bed. Subsequently, she opens the floor for questions from the audience, apropos of the incident. “Hit me with your best shot, I can take it,” she says. One then realizes this will prove to be a curious next couple of hours.
She speaks at length in the first act about her parents, Debbie Reynolds and the late Eddie Fisher. As an educational tool, Fisher edifies us with “Hollywood Inbreeding 101”, a chalkboard labeled with a vast array of photographs highlighting the saga of marriages, divorces, remarriages of Debbie Reynolds, Eddie Fisher, Liz Taylor (whom Eddie famously left Debbie for) et al. We hear that prior to his death, Papa Eddie smoked several joints a day, and once accidentally swallowed not one but both of his hearing aids. Mama Debbie lives next door, calling Fisher every day announcing “Hello dear, this is your mother Debbie.”
Of course there is the obligatory material, principally becoming a cultural icon at the age of 19 after appearing as Princess Leia in Star Wars, something that will undoubtedly follow Fisher to her grave. Clad in a Leia-Danish pastry coif wig, she explains the absurdity of how her likeness has graced all manner of tawdry merchandize from shampoo bottles to sex dolls. Fisher is however, proud as punch about the Princess Leia Pez Dispenser.
With Wishful Drinking, Fisher runs the gamut of her life from childhood, 2 marriages (one to Paul Simon, the other to a man who gave her a child yet left to pursue a homosexual relationship), the madness that was the Star Wars trilogy, and of course, her much publicized battle with mental illness. The issue of Fisher’s bipolar diagnosis is dealt with candor, but never burgeons on the sacchrine or “I am a survivor” bandwagon. Fisher does however, employ humor and a copious array of brilliant one-liners to keep the audience enthralled for the two-hour trek down Bizarro Lane. Certainly, time very well spent—the raucous standing ovation Fisher received at show’s end ought to illustrate that fact.
Wishful Drinking runs until August 21, at the Royal Alexandra Theatre, 260 King Street West. Visit www.mirvish.com/shows/wishfuldrinking for more info.