Monday, October 05, 2009

Wishful Drinking (The SOB Review)

Wishful Drinking (The SOB Review) - Studio 54, New York, New York

**1/2 (out of ****)

Hollywood scion Carrie Fisher is a genius.

A bipolar recovering alcoholic and drug addicted genius to be sure -- as she all too readily admits without any apologies -- but she's a genius nonetheless. And she's on Broadway for her day of reckoning.

So even if the force isn't always with Fisher throughout her often inspired, frequently hilarious and altogether loopy too-long, two-act set of Wishful Drinking, you can't help but be fascinated by just how bare she lays her entire existence. In many ways, you feel guilty for laughing because your fascination easily veers across the borderline of what you experience when you pass a devastating car crash. It's impossible to look away.

Fortunately, Fisher is one forcefully and fiercely funny female. The utterly introspective actress has captured the highs, drug-induced and otherwise, along with the lowliest of lows, of her own life for posterity's sake in both hardback and this hard-boiled stage retelling that's bounced around the country for the past few years prior to cracking up on Broadway. But rather than adding a rational voice for sanity amidst her woes, she's all too quickly in search of a punchline.

Fisher is at her most inspired when she's taking no prisoners. After charming the audience with her fine singing voice (who knew?), she whisks us back in time to that far, far away fifties galaxy in which America's sweethearts of the time doubled as her famous parents (Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher), inspiring the Wishful Drinking star to offer up her hysterical mock lecture of "Hollywood Inbreeding 101."

Equally funny is when Fisher is detailing the rise and fall of her two marriages, as well as in recalling George Lucas, the man responsible for her directing her into iconic film status along with a hairdo that made her face look a little wider even as she was being asked to shed 10 pounds.

Much of Fisher's life, celebrated and notorious alike, comes alive via Alexander V. Nichols' brilliant projection design.

While flirting dangerously close to the edge throughout, director Tony Taccone allows Fisher to teeter over it too many times as the intended humor fails to follow its thread. It's from these far reaches, particularly when she's not talking specifically about her own life, that we could have used a postcard instead. Taccone would also have better served Fisher had he been mindful that this is Broadway, not some little comedy club or cabaret to showcase his star's talents.

Still, Carrie Fisher's long overdue return to the Great White Way reminds us why we love her genius, no matter how manic. Is it wishful thinking to hope she'll make a return again soon?

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

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