- The Washington Times - Friday, September 12, 2008

Carrie Fisher is the kind of friend you dream of having - someone you can talk with about the New Yorker, someone quick with a withering witticism or a warm hug.

You can bask in this fantasy for two hours, courtesy of Miss Fisher’s winning one-woman show, “Wishful Drinking,” part Hollywood confessional and part astute, wry observations about a life roaringly spent.

In Miss Fisher’s 51 years, she has left few stones unturned. There was that Princess Leia thing, which elevated her to cult status and resulted in her being immortalized in Pez dispensers and dolls - as well as being associated eternally with an unfortunate hairstyle. There also are a tempestuous marriage to Paul Simon, a second marriage to a gay man that produced her daughter Billie, drug and alcohol addictions, a bipolar diagnosis after a stay in a mental institution, and a career as a successful author. Also, a few years back, a male friend died in her bed (a gay Republican who OD’ed on OxyContin) - upon which Miss Fisher remarks, “He not only died in his sleep, he died in mine.”

Aside from that, there’s the hurly-burly of Miss Fisher’s gene pool, outlined in a hilarious game-show segment titled “Hollywood Inbreeding 101.” She’s the daughter of Hollywood royalty - movie star Debbie Reynolds and crooner Eddie Fisher (before he dumped his wife and family for that home wrecker Elizabeth Taylor) - and her tales of Tinseltown scandal are too naughty and keenly detailed to be dismissed as mere celebrity apocrypha.

Tales of her mother’s eccentric outlook on life and her father’s multiple marriages and face-lifts are interspersed with anecdotes from Miss Fisher’s decades of charmed, hard living. She grew up in showbiz and in her mother’s nightclub act, so she seems perfectly at home on the stage, bouncing from a comfy chair to a fainting couch and pausing from time to time to make sardonic comments about the tabloid headlines and “Star Wars” images projected on the walls. She obviously loves a crowd, and she makes neediness an asset, involving sporting audience members in all manner of caprices.

It’s a treat to listen to Miss Fisher; her erudition and palpable love of words and language are expressed in husky, clipped cadences. It’s also a treat to hear her sing “Happy Days Are Here Again” in a voice that poignantly reminds you of Judy Garland.

What emerges in this freewheeling autobiographical evening is not just that Miss Fisher’s life has produced a wealth of material, but that she knows how to use it. She could be dubbed that hoariest of cliches: a survivor. Most survivors, however, are noble but, frankly, a bit of a bore. With “Wishful Drinking,” however, Miss Fisher shows there is plenty of sauce in sobriety.


WHAT: “Wishful Drinking,” created and performed by Carrie Fisher

WHERE: Arena Stage at the Lincoln Theatre, 1215 U St. NW

WHEN: 7:30 Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, 7:30 p.m. Sundays. Through Sept. 28.

TICKETS: $55 to $74

PHONE: 202/488-3300

WEB SITE: www.arenastage.org


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