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Review of Carrie Fisher's one-woman show

 Carrie Fisher is a complicated delight in her Arena Stage solo act.
Kevin Berne/Berkeley Repertory Theatre
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Date published: 9/11/2008


WASHINGTON--Carrie Fisher has made a career out of her life.

First there were the thinly fictionalized autobiographical books--"Postcards From the Edge," "Surrender the Pink," "The Best Awful."

Then there was the movie version of "Postcards," for which she wrote the screenplay, and the upcoming HBO version of "The Best Awful."

Now Fisher is traveling the U.S. in the one-woman show, "Wishful Drinking"--about, you guessed it, the life of Carrie Fisher.

Fortunately, Fisher is possessed of a wry wit and a wicked way with words. If anyone can find the humor in pain and suffering, she's the one. As she says, "If my life weren't funny, it would just be true. And that is unacceptable."

She begins the show with the problem of Greg Stevens, a gay Republican political operative who died in her bed three years ago. With that out of the way, she moves on to the marital tangles of Hollywood celebrities, specifically hers and her parents, movie stars Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher.

The ostensible object is to figure out whether her father's second wife's grandson is related to her daughter. This tends to bog down a bit, because there are a lot of tangles to explore, not all of them germane to the issue at hand.

But it does illuminate Fisher's childhood.

Of course "Star Wars" comes up. It is, after all, the thing most closely associated with Fisher in the public mind, never mind that the movie came out 30-odd years ago. There's a bit about Princess Leia's hairstyle, and another bit involving an inflatable Princess Leia sex doll. Gentlemen, be warned. Do not sit in the first few rows--audience participation occurs.

Don't go to "Wishful Drinking" expecting many new insights into the life and times of Carrie Fisher. Much of the material is recycled from her books--drug rehab, her daughter's father leaving her for another man, her bipolar disorder and the stay in a mental hospital.

But she's a funny lady who knows how to use the admittedly calamitous details of her life to build rapport with her audience.

"The trouble with being a survivor," she tells us, "is that you have to keep getting in trouble [have something to talk about]."

And it might almost be worth going to the show just to see the beautiful Lincoln Theatre. Arena has added the theater on U Street as a second venue while renovations are occurring at its Maine Avenue location. It's a straight shot up 14th Street, so it's easy to get to. Directions and parking information can be found on the Web site, arenastage.org.

Lucia Anderson is a freelance writer living in Woodbridge.

What: 'Wishful Drinking' Where: Lincoln Theatre, 1215 U St. N.W., Washington When: Through Sept. 28 Cost: $55-$74 Info: 202/554-9066; arenastage.org