Drugs, booze, divorces and affairs might sound like a run of the mill Jerry Springer episode, but even the rich and famous succumb to such pitfalls in Tinseltown, and when you’re the child of a movie star mother and famed crooner father, every vice runs the risk of making headlines. How does a famous person cope with a litany of personal disasters and addictions? They do what every other actor seems busy with these days – put on a one-person show and welcome the world into your sordid past with open arms.
Hollywood celebrities beware, Carrie Fisher is on the loose and taking no prisoners in her one-woman tour de force, ‘Wishful Drinking,’ now playing on Broadway at Roundabout Theatre’s Studio 54.
Fisher, most recognizable from her turn as the bun-haired princess in Star Wars, has taken to the stage to tell a tale, or three, of her ups and mostly downs over the last 50 years, and shines brighter than any star in George Lucas‘ faraway galaxy. Not one to hold punches or even soften the blow, Fisher titillates with gossip from her past befit for the juiciest of tabloids.
“A lot of this stuff is over the top, but you can’t imagine what I’m leaving out,” says Fisher before jumping back into stories of celebrity inbreeding and father-daughter drug binges. Having spent most of her life in the public eye, Fisher has hit rock bottom and lived to tell about it, but don’t call her a survivor, as she is quick to point out it’s a trivial word always used in rehab.
And she is certainly no stranger to rehab, or mental hospitals for that matter, which she explicitly makes clear in her opening line, “I’m Carrie Fisher, and I’m an alcoholic, and this is a true story.”
Kicking off this riotous evening, Fisher serenades with a quaint tune, “Happy Days Are Here Again,” after emerging from a star lit backdrop with a recognizable sci-fi theme.
This show resembles a walk down Hollywood Boulevard, which for the evening might as well be re-named the Walk of Shame. With a handful of old movie clips projected behind, Fisher opens her diary and reveals one secret after another often surrounding her mother, Debbie Reynolds, and father, Eddie Fisher. That is not to say that every other famous face that has come in contact with her does not get put through the ringer as the evening progresses.
After all, her family tree, which during the evening is presented as an org chart, resembles a fractured fairy tale with a handful of celebs, all “related by scandal,” as Fisher so wryly points out. Then there was that tumultuous marriage to singer Paul Simon, who Fisher gleefully lifts a song from chalking it up to unpaid alimony.
It is no wonder that with all of her demons, Fisher has enough material to easily fill an entire evening, but it is a testament to her resilience that she seemingly conjures the strength to endure. Cringe worthy at times, ‘Wishful Drinking’ never fails to keep the audience rolling in the aisles. Fisher need not be a stand-up comedian as her radiant personality and wry sense of humor continuously satisfy.
And if there is any doubt Fisher’s memory might have slipped after those many years of substance abuse and bi-polar experiences, she caps off the evening reprising the Star Wars character she has now come to loathe, uttering the memorable lines, “This is our most desperate hour. Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope.”
There is something for every car crash rubbernecking, gossip-hungry person to enjoy in ‘Wishful Drinking.’ Fisher even throws those sentimental types a bone or two, although she is quick to break through those downer moments with a readied zinger.
I had the good fortune of seeing Carrie Fisher’s one-woman show ‘Wishful Drinking’ during its world premiere a few years ago at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles. Having played around the country, its latest incarnation on Broadway is well worth a look. With a spruced up set and plenty of polished bits the auto-biographical show is in fine form.
Published by the Huffington Post on October 7, 2009