Review by Shanye Dukevitch
EDITORS NOTE: Our new New York corespondent, Shanye Dukevitch, is going be bringing us Grand Rapidians theatre fans a taste of the Big Apple. She’ll be reviewing current plays in the big city and letting us know what to check out when we’re in town.
Wishful Drinking is a hilarious window into the life of a bona-fide Hollywood Princess. Running at the famed Studio 54 on Broadway, Carrie Fisher’s one woman show invites the audience into the most embarrassing and horrifying moments of her life and encourages them to laugh along with her at the absurdity of it all.
The daughter of 50’s icons Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds, Ms. Fisher was born into the surreal world of celebrity. At the age of nineteen she earned super-star status in her own right when she landed the role of Princess Leia in the original Star Wars Trilogy. Her unique insight into the effects of fame and the insanity that sometimes comes along with it is derived from having been both a spectator and insider in the world of icons.
In Wishful Drinking the audience is ushered right into the heart of Fisher’s weird and wonderful existence. Staged on a set that purports to be her living room, the actress enters the scene in pajamas and robe and begins her stroll down memory lane by talking about the night a close friend died in her bed while sleeping next to her. To break the tension over sharing such an unsettling story she raises the lights in the house and invites the audience to ask her any questions they might have about the experience. Her wry sense of humor and quick wit swiftly has everyone laughing – which sets the tone for the rest of the show. Whether she’s talking about her parent’s messy divorce, her own drug use, her failed marriage to singer Paul Simon or her struggles with bi-polar disorder, Fisher always manages to keep the audience in stitches.
Star Wars fans have a lot to love about the show. Fisher takes great pleasure in poking fun at George Lucas, her own performance in the films and the horrors of merchandising. Sporting a trademark Danish-bun wig she relishes in showing pictures of some of the more bizarre items that hold her likeness, like soap, (“Lather up with Leia and you’ll feel like a Princess yourself!”), Mr. Potato Head, (Princess Tater), and a stamp, (“Which is totally cool – and not just because of the licking.”) She even brings out on stage a life-sized doll of herself and has some fun with it at the expense of a brave audience member.
The second half of the show is slightly darker than the first, as it deals more with the issues of Fisher’s past drug use and her struggles with manic depression. Still, she keeps the tone light throughout, reminding the audience that sometimes the only way to survive is to laugh.
Wishful Drinking is a truly fun and crowd pleasing night of theater. It’s an unvarnished window into a world that many dream about but only a few have experienced. Fisher is insightful, sarcastic, at times brutally honest – and always funny. Her performance is wry and enjoyable, and the direction by Tony Taccone is appropriately quirky, just like the piece. All together it’s a unique theatrical experience that shouldn’t be missed.
Written and Performed by Carrie Fisher
Directed by Tony Taccone
254 West 54th Street
Tickets: 212-719-1300 or www.roundabouttheatre.org
Running Time: 2 Hours
Closes: January 17th, 2010