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Learning Carrie Fisher 101

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Consider yourself warned. If you don’t see Carrie Fisher’s new one-woman tour de force “Wishful Drinking,” she says she’ll end up talking about herself “alone in the dark — again!”

She may be kidding — or not — but think of the show, playing through March 30 at Berkeley Repertory Theatre, as a glass of scotch, neat, chased back with a few shots of absinthe. It may pack a creative punch, but also delivers some sobering insights.

In between unveiling parts of her personal life — manna for celeb addicts — Fisher offers surprising sentiment. There are confessions of being the child of celebrity parents (Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher), musings about her fame (“Star Wars”) and her divorce (Paul Simon). Most cherished may be Fisher’s candid revelations about her fluctuating, and well-publicized, mental state.

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“Nobody does it better than Carrie,” says Berkeley Rep Artistic Director Tony Taccone, who directs the show. “The thing about Carrie is that her life is so extraordinarily public that getting into her private side is different.”

Taccone says one of the most challenging aspects in conceptualizing the show was discovering how much Fisher really wanted to reveal about herself. He views the end result as “the story behind the story.”

It’s some story. A darling of 1970s and ’80s cinema, Fisher found her celebrity soaring in another direction with her 1987 bestseller, “Postcards From the Edge.” A string of page-turners followed, including her most recent, “The Best Awful,” which is currently being adapted into an HBO offering.

In between, Fisher salvaged a bevy of Hollywood scripts, co-starred in box office winners like “Sleepless in Seattle” and even turned heads on TV (“30 Rock,” “Weeds”).

But her experiences with addiction and bipolar disorder, and her willingness to speak candidly about them, are what have grabbed people on a deeper level.

Fisher’s local presence is also a shot in the arm for Berkeley Rep’s social calendar. In conjunction with the’s Rep’s 40th-anniversary celebration, a number of special themed “Wishful Drinking” events including a “Postcards From the Edge” book club reading on Friday have been scheduled.

“Our job was to match people’s expectations and go beyond it,” Taccone says of the show’s eight-week run. “Let’s face it — she has a fan base that really wants to hear what she has to say.”

Taccone includes himself in that category, adding that he admired how he and Fisher were able to unite creatively before the show launched.

“Basically, I think she was worried that I was going to try to turn her piece into ‘Long Day’s Journey into Night’ and I was worried that she wasn’t going to be too serious,” he says. “And I think we met in the middle.”

Cheers to that.

Wishful Drinking

Where: Berkeley Repertory Theatre, 2015 Addison St., Berkeley

When: Most Tuesdays through Sundays; closes March 30

Tickets: $13.50 to $69

Contact: (510) 647-2949 or www.berkeleyrep.org



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