Carrie Fisher, writer-actress of "Star Wars" fame, dishes on her Hollywood-studded growing-up years and her lifetime of struggles with mental illness in "Wishful Drinking," playing at Seattle Repertory Theatre through May 3; theater review by Misha Berson.
Theater Review |
Carrie Fisher is out to prove she’s had a life more bizarre than yours. And with the help of a flow chart, a glitter gun and a super-size supply of zinging quips, she makes her case in her solo show “Wishful Drinking,” at Seattle Repertory Theatre.
Part E! celebrity bio, part 12 Step meeting and part irony-drenched stand-up comedy act, “Wishful Drinking” rustles up plenty of laughs. It can also get a bit, well, off-putting in its unabashed solipsism.
Roaming restlessly around the stage, and into the audience, Fisher spills sardonically on her showbiz parents (eternally perky movie star Debbie Reynolds and singer Eddie Fisher), on her “sociopath” stepfathers, on her two husbands (musician Paul Simon and Hollywood agent Bryan Lourd).
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She gives us a quickie tour of her substance-abuse issues (alcoholism and codeine addictions) and mental-health disorders (bipolar disorder, depression).
OK, you win Carrie! First prize in the Wacko Life Competition is all yours!
Fisher would obviously be much worse off without her fine-honed sense of humor. And if she weren’t so entertaining and at ease with this tell-all, “Wishful Drinking” would be more squirm-worthy.
Sure, it’s her life the actress-novelist is raking over for us — but also the marriages, divorces, remarriages, deaths and quirks of her near-and-not-always dear.
She calls Eddie Fisher “Puff Daddy,” in honor of his marijuana habit. She clears up a false rumor: “My mother is not a lesbian. She’s just a really bad heterosexual.” She informs us her stepfather’s barber was also his pimp. …
Well, you get the picture.
Directed by Tony Taccone, half of “Wishful Drinking” is about family, and half about Fisher’s relationship and mental-health issues. (The Simon stories are blessedly respectful and sketchy.)
Carrie’s matter-of-fact candor about her bipolar disease is certainly praiseworthy. She demystifies what it’s like to have “no insulation” from what’s happening around you (don’t watch CNN in this condition, she advises), and being at the mercy of sudden 180-degree mood swings.
Commanding the stage in uselessly unflattering black outfits and rhinestone flip-flops (she could really use some wardrobe therapy), Fisher knows how to warm up a crowd, and get you in her court — instantly.
A vulnerable gal with a tough-cookie manner, Fisher is unprecious about herself and her clan (“we’re blue-blood white trash”). And in the funniest segment, she makes hilarious mincemeat of her screen stint as Princess Leia in the “Star Wars” films
She even invites people onstage to wear the Little Dutch Girl wig that director George Lucas saddled her with, and to help figure out how to have sex with a concrete likeness of herself as Leia. (Definitely leave the kids at home for this show.)
“Wishful Drinking” has been a hit in several cities, and will likely do well at the Rep. But maybe in her next show Fisher will focus her ironic eye on the absurdities of Hollywood moviemaking. Even with a past as colorful, crazy and star-studded as hers, it might be a good idea to change the subject every now and then.
Misha Berson: firstname.lastname@example.org