Review Roundup: EAT PRAY LAUGH!- Dame Edna's Farewell
At the end of EAT PRAY LAUGH!, we see an icon go out in stunning style. At the age of 80, Barry Humphries has retired his alter egos, including Dame Edna and Sir Les Patterson as of last night, taking his final bows at the farewell peformance of Dame Edna at the London Palladium. He says that he has used used his career to "postpone the responsibilities of adult life", but promised to come back at the next farewell performance.
Let's see what the critics had to say...
Michael Coveney, WhatsOnStage: And, as usual, Dame Edna hauls a chap out of the audience and rings up his wife at home - always in the suburbs, luckily; on opening night in Petts Wood, Kent - to check on her taste in furnishings and wallpaper (not good). Very soon, the house is inundated with gladioli and we're all singing and waving at them like the inmates in the high security mental home he's just been telling us about.
Paul Taylor, Independent: Les's cheerfully Neanderthal persona is, of course, the licence for an orgy of political incorrectness and his claim that he wants his rissoles to be a metaphor for multi-culturalism results in some breathtakingly near-the-knuckle xenophobic gags: "Is there anyone in Poland, I wonder? I reckon it's the Marie Celeste of Europe". Humphries plays around with the limits of offensiveness less successfully, however, with a new, under-cooked creation, Les's brother, a toothily blithe and grinning clergyman, Gerard, whose predilections become apparent when his interest in the boyish pianist activates his neon electronic ankle-tag.
Michael Billington, The Guardian: In the show's second half we finally get to Dame Edna, who now aspires to spiritual fulfilment and achieves a moment of "tantric intimacy" between two strangers on stage. This is prefaced by a very funny film bio of Dame Edna in which we see her sporting outsize specs from infancy. And, along the way, there are some characteristic Edna-isms: "I don't pick on people, I empower them," she announces, and she reports of her son Kenny that "he lectures in flower arrangements ... he's a man's man".
Dominic Cavendish, Daily Telegraph: ...Dame Edna Everage arrives in glittering, regal style on the back of a (fake) elephant to reveal she's abandoning the fickle world of celebrity after a spiritual awakening in an Indian ashram. It's an hour of unalloyed comic pleasure - complete with risqué laughs at the expense of two hapless hand-picked volunteers.
Liz Arratoon, The Stage: If it's possible to be a National Treasure when you're a foreigner and an Aussie to boot, Barry Humphries, or at least Dame Edna Everage - his most enduring creation - fits the bill. She hit the scene in the mid-1950s when Humphries was just into his twenties. But that's almost 60 years ago, how can the old gal - or 'gigastar' - still be out gadding? Well, possums, the fact is she's had enough and this is supposedly her farewell tour. Cue cries of "No!"
Neil Norman, Express: Scatalogical, politically incorrect, sexually dubious and downright disgusting - it was easy to see why the likes of Michael Parkinson, John Hurt, Richard E Grant, Ruby Wax, Louis Walsh, Paul O' Grady and Martin Clunes - to name just a few - were as doubled over with laughter as the 'paupers' in the cheap seats way up in the gods. There are plenty of hoary old jokes, ludicrous shaggy dog stories and innuendos so outrageous they make Joan Rivers look like Mother Theresa