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Theatre

Carrie Fisher on Hollywood and the perils of celebrity

Posted by Keith Bennie / July 18, 2011

Carrie Fisher Wishful DrinkingImagine yourself forever immortalized in the hearts and minds of moviegoers as an intergalactic princess with a cinnabon hairdo. The early role that catapulted Carrie Fisher to stardom makes its presence felt in her one woman show Carrie Fisher: Wishful Drinking, a chronological journey through the crises of a Hollywood icon. Fisher's autobiographical play (more like an extended conversation with the audience) is a compelling journey of acceptance.

The play is based on the book of the same title, which visits the pivotal moments in the actress's up and down career. She describes her time in rehab at the hands of prescription drugs, the diagnosis of her bi-polar disorder, and her marriage to Bryan Lourd, who left her for a man. If there is one thing you can say confidently about Fisher, it's that she's had a tough go of it.

All these challenges would make for a depressing night at the theatre. Yet Fisher's brings to bear an uncensored telling that relies on finding the humour in every one of her dark periods — she opens the show singing Happy Days Are Here Again. You get the sense that this is the most fitting way for a performer to wrestle with her demons, to bring them on stage for all to see.

Wishful DrinkingFisher's upbringing was the stuff of Hollywood royalty. The daughter of actress Debbie Reynolds and singer Eddie Fisher (who left Reynolds for Elizabeth Taylor), Fisher details the celebrity personalities that surrounded her. If it takes a village to raise a child, her village was filled with adulterous characters with little care for long-term relationships. Fisher's explanation of these complicated relationships, in a section she calls Hollywood Inbreeding 101, is the highlight of the show.

She describes the post-Star Wars period filled with stalkers, the fantasies of teenage boys, and every type of merchandise possible. She even invites a member of the audience to the stage to try and seduce the Princess Leia sex doll. While she jokingly proclaims she'd like to "thank George Lucas for ruining my life," you have to wonder how much truth there is in her statement.

Carrie Fisher Wishful DrinkingFisher aims for a genuine rapport with the audience inviting questions, singling out specific members, and liberally throwing glitter across the front row. This frankness serves to invite the audience into her living room--reflected in the cozy set complete with Star Wars memorabilia and kitschy trinkets. Her relaxed delivery elevates the show beyond a strict personal portrait.

Not all of the stops down memory lane hit the mark. The second act can't seem to harness the energy of the first and while her suggestion that bipolarism should have its own pride parade breaks down the stigma of mental illness, her description of electroconvulsive therapy borders on the awkward.

Yet her core message, that "if you can claim something, you can have far more power over it," resonates strongly from a woman who practices what she preaches. Fisher's play never feels like a celebrity indulging in unnecessary self-reflection. If the reward of all that struggle is being able to share it in such a delightful way with audiences, then Fisher succeeds at translating all that pain into triumph.

Carrie Fisher: Wishful Drinking runs until August 21 at the Royal Alexandra Theatre. Tickets range from $49 - $130.

Photos by Cylla von Tiedemann courtesy of Mirvish Productions

Discussion

16 Comments

JJ / July 18, 2011 at 09:39 am
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Whoa there botox
Newman / July 18, 2011 at 10:11 am
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Oh my god, what happened to her face?
jashik replying to a comment from Newman / July 18, 2011 at 10:38 am
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It's called 'aging'.
Harold A Maio / July 18, 2011 at 11:35 am
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her suggestion that bipolarism should have its own pride parade breaks down the -'stigma'- of mental illness

You brought it up, your claim or hers?

Harold A. Maio
khmaio@earthlink.net
Harold A Maio / July 18, 2011 at 11:36 am
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her suggestion that bipolarism should have its own pride parade breaks down --the stigma-- of mental illness

You brought it into the article, your word, prejudice, or hers?

Harold A. Maio, retired Mental Health Editor

khmaio@earthlink.net
sansie / July 18, 2011 at 12:57 pm
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Its called weight loss AND aging. I think she looks great!
rek replying to a comment from Harold A Maio / July 18, 2011 at 01:06 pm
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Are you under the impression that mental illness doesn't carry any stigma?
handfed / July 18, 2011 at 01:16 pm
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blah
Harold A. Maio replying to a comment from rek / July 18, 2011 at 01:20 pm
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--Are you under the impression that mental illness doesn't carry any stigma?


Not from me, how about you?

khmaio@earthlink.net
Harold A Maio replying to a comment from rek / July 18, 2011 at 01:25 pm
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Are you under the impression that mental illness doesn't carry any stigma?

Not from me, how about you?

Harold A. Maio
khmaio@earthlink.net
jashik replying to a comment from Harold A Maio / July 18, 2011 at 01:36 pm
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I think you should stop posting things twice.
I think you should stop posting things twice.
TheRealJohnson replying to a comment from jashik / July 18, 2011 at 03:06 pm
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Re: It's called 'aging'.

Aging typically makes you look older, not younger. This is called 'plastic surgery.'

How unfortunate that such an accomplished actress and writer felt it necessary to have work done to look more youthful.

Also, would a bipolar pride parade be really exciting and energetic for about half the route, then depressing for the last half?
TheRealJohnson / July 18, 2011 at 03:11 pm
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Re: It's called 'aging'.

Aging typically makes a person appear older. This is actually called 'plastic surgery.'

Also: Would a bipolar parade be really exciting and energetic for the first half but slow and depressing for the second half?
TheRealJohnson / July 18, 2011 at 03:21 pm
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Posting things twice! Yay!
Retnan / July 18, 2011 at 04:20 pm
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Yikes, she looks unrecognizable from When Harry Met Sally let alone Star Wars. Lose the collagen!
rek replying to a comment from Harold A. Maio / July 19, 2011 at 05:03 pm
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You need to start making sense.

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