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Carrie Fisher’s Wishful Drinking

Photo: Alex Fine, License: N/A

Alex Fine

Carrie Fisher’s Wishful Drinking

At the Hippodrome through Feb. 12

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Wishful Drinking, Carrie Fisher’s one-woman show, opens with a song, Hollywood-style. Fisher walks onstage, showering glitter onto the heads of the nearest audience members and crooning “Happy Days Are Here Again.” Meanwhile, covers of old tabloids flash on a screen behind her, crowing luridly about her various, very real battles with addiction and mental illness. (“Fisher Spends Months in Psych Ward,” reads one.) The contrast sets the tone for the two-hour performance, in which Fisher addresses poignant topics with a devastating, deadpan humor.

Fisher has been regaling audiences with the story of her life since the 2006 premiere of Wishful Drinking, and her barbs are by now well honed. Of her womanizing father, the singer Eddie Fisher, and his attempts to comfort Elizabeth Taylor when Taylor’s husband Michael Todd died in a plane crash, she says, poker-faced, “He ultimately consoled her with his penis.” (Eddie Fisher left actress Debbie Reynolds, Carrie Fisher’s mother, for Taylor.) Of her twin claims to fame—her role as Princess Leia in the Star Wars movies and her addiction/mental health problems—she proudly proclaims, “I’m a Pez dispenser, and I’m in the abnormal psychology textbook!” (Both are true.)

The show is a highly interactive one—if you sit in the front row, you’re asking for it—and Fisher’s confessional manner has a way of putting one at ease. Early on, she describes waking up next to a dear friend who has died in the night, and invites questions from the audience on the experience. “How’d you figure out he was dead?” a woman called out one recent evening. “Well, for one thing, dead people are very bad conversationalists,” Fisher replied without missing a beat. In another riotous section of the show, she leads the “class” in a discussion of “Hollywood Inbreeding 101.” A chalkboard descends from above, adorned with a complicated graph depicting her parents’ many romantic entanglements and their resulting offspring.

Fisher is equally candid about what it is like to undergo electroconvulsive therapy, which she does regularly. She notes that it tends to take with it “a little doggie bag of about five months of memory.” Sadly, this effect was noticeable at the performance we attended. While Fisher managed to conceal many of her lapses with off-the-cuff jokes, by the end she was fading out painfully mid-sentence and squinting regularly at the teleprompter. Perhaps, as she claimed, these slip-ups were simply due to the fact that she hadn’t done the show for several months. Either way, one is rooting so much for her by the finale that the occasional fumbling only makes her gutsy tell-all all the more admirable.

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