As part of Berkeley Rep’s 40th birthday festivities, Hollywood legend Carrie Fisher performs her hilarious new solo show, Wishful Drinking, directed by Tony Taccone. Photographer: Kevin Berne
Today, along with fellow DC expats Thom and Jeff, I visited Carrie Fisher’s world: her mind, her life, and — in stage set form — her living room.
Her one-woman show, “Wishful Drinking” is a sort of comic therapy session, a “My Life on the A List” act that somehow makes the audience laugh somewhat self-consciously at the tragic and bitter realities of her life.
From the first moments, when she describes the death of a close friend in her bed and then opens up the floor for questions about that event, I was laughing… but feeling sort of guilty about doing so.
Fisher’s ability to instantly call up bon mots and put a witty spin on sadness is indicative of a keen intellect; but it’s also a way to push tragic events away and keep them at arms length. I do much the same thing when I contemplate how close I came to death a year or so ago. Of course, I’m not nearly as good at it as she is, not having had the decades of practice.
She’s almost the prototypical child star, the template for generations who came after her and fizzled into lives of drugs and crime; Carrie Fisher’s saving grace is her astonishing intelligence and wit.
Is it cathartic for her to stand on stage every day and tell perfect strangers about her life; albeit pinning the blame on her father and husbands? Does it help her to make light of her mental illness or addictions? Having tried that myself, through blogging and the like, my guess is no.
But does it help us? The strangers in the dark, including the ones she interacts with from the stage no matter how superficially? I don’t know. But I have a suspicion that the catharsis is more viable for us than for her. Still, I left feeling that I wanted to hang out in her living room and let it all out, talking into the wee hours and smoking clove cigarettes. In reality, she would have worn me in out in a few hours.
She sums up the show with a line that is both witty and philosophical” “If my life weren’t funny, it would just be true. And that would be unacceptable.”
“Wishful Drinking” has been extended through April 12 at the Berkeley Rep. If you have the opportunity, I highly recommend it. And you’ll understand the title of this entry.