Volume 79, Number 25 | November 25 - December 1, 2009
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933


Photo by Joan Marcus

Carrie Fisher, employing helpful visual aids

Fisher dishes, delightfully, on her Hollywood lineage

BY SCOTT HARRAH

Carrie Fisher is consistently hilarious throughout her one-woman show “Wishful Drinking.” Although many know her for playing Princess Leia at age 19 in the first “Star Wars” movie, she’s perhaps most famous for being the daughter of Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher as well as for her book “Postcards from the Edge” — about her struggle with drugs and alcohol and life with her famous mother.  

“Wishful Drinking” is less a look at Fisher’s past addictions than an ongoing comic monologue about her colorful life in Hollywood and her celebrated relatives.  Anyone expecting a sermon about the evils of substance abuse may be disappointed, as Fisher is strictly interested in entertaining the audience. She opens the show by singing “Happy Days Are Here Again” — setting the tone for what follows: a sidesplitting, lighthearted account of her troubled journey through the Hollywood spotlight. 

Sporting oversized pajamas and a jewel-encrusted robe, Fisher gets the most laughs when she discusses her father, Eddie, leaving mom, Debbie, to marry Elizabeth Taylor. She uses a huge board to illustrate her celebrity ancestry, giving us a lesson in “Hollywood Inbreeding 101” — complete with photos of Eddie, Debbie, Liz, Eddie’s third wife, Connie Stevens, her half-sister Joely Fisher, and other Tinseltown kinfolk.  

Fisher talks about her teenage daughter, Billie, taking a romantic interest in Liz Taylor’s grandson, Rhys. When Billie asks if dating Liz’s grandson might be incestuous, Fisher tells her daughter they would only be “related by scandal.” 

Instead of lecturing about her past problems, she uses humor as therapy.  She transposes a famous Karl Marx quote about religion being the “opiate of the masses” by simply saying she devoured “masses of opiates religiously” in her darkest days. 

Fisher also goes into glorious detail about the camp element of her fame, showing projections of Princess Leia shampoo, soap and Pez dispensers. These visual aids give the show a wonderful multimedia feel, while allowing audiences to laugh along with Fisher at the absurdities of her notoriety. 

She discusses her divorce from first husband Paul Simon, and a later, doomed marriage to a man who turned out to be gay. Fisher superbly mimics what her mother, Debbie. said when learning of the second divorce: “Darling, we’ve never had a homosexual in the family.” 

Not everything in “Wishful Drinking” is effective, and the two-act show could have easily been condensed into a 90-minute one act. However, Tony Taccone’s direction is first-rate — and Fisher is always amusing, milking the material for all it is worth, and poking fun at her celebrity with scathing wit.

Written by Carrie Fisher. Directed by Tony Taccone. Through January 3, at Studio 54 (254 West 54th Street). For tickets, call 212-719-1300 or visit roundabouttheatre.org 

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