Review: Let’s go ‘Drinking’ with Carrie

Many details of Carrie Fisher’s life already have been exposed, but not as gleefully as in “Wishful Drinking.”

Onstage at Berkeley Repertory Theatre, the lifelong celebrity’s solo show serves up plenty of wonderful tidbits about the best-selling author and actress who has been in the spotlight since she was a child.

For what must have been a scattered few in the audience who know little about her show-biz lineage, she provided a handy chart titled “Hollywood Inbreeding 101” toward the beginning of her two-hour (the time sped by!) talk.

She pointed to a picture of her father Eddie Fisher and said, “Think of him as Brad Pitt.” Pointing to her mother Debbie Reynolds, she said, “Think of her as Jennifer Aniston.” Then, with a finger toward Elizabeth Taylor, she said, “Angelina Jolie.”

OK, many theatergoers knew those facts. But the complex, roundabout roundup in which she described her parents’ plethora of doomed marriages and romantic entanglements that followed was a hoot — and truly enlightening.

At 51, Fisher is looking, and sounding, a lot like her iconic mom. Wearing not the most flattering head-to-toe black outfit (was it a skirt or pants?), Fisher strutted around the stage, drank diet soda and smoked clove cigarettes while telling thoroughly engaging, nonlinear, freewheeling stories of her life.

Throughout the show, screens behind her flashed with visual aids, including photos of her ex-husband Paul Simon — “Short Jewish man,” she called him and Eddie Fisher — as well as her alter ego, Princess Leia, and George Lucas, the man who created her. She thanked him for providing her, Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill with a “merry band of stalkers” for a lifetime.

The “Star Wars” segment was among the show’s most amusing. With humor and horror, Fisher discussed the various dolls and products (soap, a shampoo bottle) that feature her likeness, then pulled a good-natured guy from the audience to join her in celebrating what’s possibly the most notorious hair-do of all time. Smiling, both donned the double bagel-eared wig to close out the first half of the performance.

Like Joan Rivers, who presented her life story at the Magic Theatre last year, Fisher revels in the negative. At the beginning of the show, she gets out of the way the anecdote about her gay friend who died next to her in bed. She even takes questions from the audience on the topic.

She’s equally candid about the fact that she’s an addict and bipolar, themes she explores in the show’s second half.

Her skill, as it has been throughout her career as a popular writer, is how she makes light out of darkness. She’s so funny, in fact, that her stories go down so easy — possibly too easily, so much that, in the end, they don’t resonate as much as they would if she had rallied for an appeal of pathos.

Still, she’s humorous as heck. Even though she’s led a life full of crazy extremes, her astute observation that everyone over 40 is a “survivor” remains a message for all of us.

IF YOU GO

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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