BWW Reviews: WISHFUL DRINKING - The Best Part is Carrie Herself
"What ever happened to Carrie Fisher?" muses an Internet fan boy, before delving inappropriately into her age and weight. Carrie Fisher tells the audience this anecdote from her recent life, letting the audience know about a time that she Googled herself without lubricant, which is something she advises the audience never to do. However, after seeing the opening performance of Wishful Drinking in Houston, it is obvious that the fan boy in the story was not lucky enough to have seen the genuine yet hilarious one-woman show. If he had, he'd know that Carrie Fisher is better than ever. And it may be true that she is not a young, twenty-three year old clad in a metal bikini, but it cannot be denied that she truly looks great for a woman of her age. Basically, Carrie Fisher is still an icon and she is more than happy to let her fans share in her status as an icon.
The best part about this show is Carrie Fisher herself. She is brutally honest and affecting. I have a feeling that someone who did not know who Carrie Fisher was—they would most definitely have been living under a rock for over thirty years—would be unable to leave the theatre feeling anything less than completely enamored by her.
There is no question that to be as raw and open as she is about her life in the ninety or so minutes she is on stage that she is both brave and deeply inspiring. She adeptly moves the audience with every well paced and impeccably delivered episode from her interesting and overly publicized life, all the while reminding the audience, "If it weren't funny, it'd just be true." Between moments of self-deprecating humor and completely satirizing the Hollywood culture that ensures seats get sold (i.e. "Hollywood Inbreeding 101"), Carrie Fisher takes the time to touch the heart and mind of each and every audience member, making her life experiences relatable to everyone who was "invited" and subsequently purchased a ticket to her show.
Having been the subject of many tabloid articles and television news shows for her various addictions and stints in rehabs and psychiatric units, many members of the audience—most of which remember these events from when they originally occurred—will not find these stories to be new. Despite this, Carrie Fisher breathes life into them with her charm and wit, making sure that each vignette is fresh and enjoyable. Likewise, she is not embarrassed by any of her scars and it is apparent that she enjoys telling the stories behind each scar as much as the audience loves to hear them.
The cleverly designed lights further enhance the enjoyment of the evening, being used in a way that makes even the large, cavernous Sarofim hall feel like an intimidate setting. Carrie Fisher encourages audience participation throughout the show, and the house lights are brought up, enabling her to interact with the assembled masses of adoring fans. This simple technique makes this show feel less like a show and more like the audience is sitting in Carrie Fisher's living room and catching up with a close friend. She even told tonight's audience that before the show was over, that we'd get to know each other very well. All I have to say is that Carrie Fisher was right.
The set is simplistic in design and looks like a lavish, yet not ornate, living room. In fact, it looks comfortable and welcoming. It is the type of living room that anyone can be cozy in. This further augments the feeling of being in Carrie Fisher's living room. Then, to make sure that the audience has every chance to fully geek out between laughs, the set pieces in the background contain obvious and not-so-obvious allusions and references to her body of work. Sadly, in my attempt to quickly catalogue the various and sundry items, I couldn't find one that reminded me of her often overlooked role as dorm mother in the much ignored Sorority Row. I'm sure that something on the set commemorates this role, but Carrie Fisher kept this fan laughing too hard and too interested in her stories (or "furniture" as she would say) to pay enough attention to her beautiful set.
Carrie Fisher's one-woman show may just be the best show that Broadway Across America has brought to The Hobby Center this season, and I'm truly jealous of the fans that will see it each night throughout the run. Why? Well, any one who has ever worked on the flip side of the stage will tell you that every audience is different, and with a show like this, that means each night will be different. Also, Carrie Fisher had great improvisational adlibs during the course of this evening's performance, proving that she simply will not give the same show twice. All of this culminates to prove that the show will leave you laughing in the aisles and knowing that whatever night you see it, it will be unique, magical, and something you and only your fellow audience members and Carrie Fisher can share. Everyone who stays at home will have unfortunately missed out.
Wishful Drinking runs at The Hobby Center through May 20, 2012. Simply put, you'd be a "stuck up, half-witted, scruffy-looking Nerf herder" if you missed this show! So come out and show Carrie Fisher your support and love, I promise you that she'll make it worth your time!
For tickets or information contact The Hobby Center for the Performing Arts box office at (713) 315-2525 or visit them online at http://www.thehobbycenter.org/.
All photos are courtesy of Cylla von Tiedemann.