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A CurtainUp Los Angeles Review
The opening segment is a very hard act to follow. Against a dazzling curtain of stars designed by Daniel Ionazzi, Fisher appears in a black pant suit singing "Happy Days" in the slow ballad style initiated by Barbra Streisand. Her voice is better than Barbra’s and a slide projection appears among the stars with tabloids and newspapers displaying such fake headlines from Fisher’s real life as "Carrie Fisher Thanks Elizabeth Taylor For Getting Eddie Out Of The House."
Her early life is illustrated with photos of her famous parents, Eddie Fisher and Debby Reynolds, and a hilarious flow chart trying to explain how her daughter Billie might be related to a grandson of Mike Todd’s, Taylor’s husband before Eddie Fisher. (I’m still as confused about that as Carrie is.)
Fisher segues from her family to her most famous screen role, Princess Leia in Star Wars. The madness of Hollywood as well as the mysteries of the universe are condensed into one piece of costume direction given Fisher by George Lucas: "There is no underwear in space."
Dark ladies may have had sonnets dedicated to them by Shakespeare or Browning but ladies in the 20th century get their very own popular songs. "Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?" sounds positively wimpy if you’re married to a Platinum Record composer like Paul Simon, who wrote of Fisher: "My heart is allergic to my love and it’s changing the shape of my face."
The second act, in which Fisher recounts her two stints in a mental hospital with "manic depression, now called bipolar disorder"” and two in rehab for drug abuse, certainly doesn’t lack dramatic material but Fisher doesn’t dramatize it. We’re not allowed inside the narrator and the people in her life, as we are in Act One. So it drags and Fisher seems tired, too.
Joshua Ravetch’s direction is good on pacing and tone but monotonous in its staging, letting the actress pace back and forth across the front of the stage obsessively as she talks. But when you hear what she’s been through, you have to cheer for a survivor’s achievement, as well as acknowledge some real gifts. Carrie Fisher can sing as well as either of her parents and, though not all her jokes work, she has a flair for words as well as music.
Let’s hope, with a little revision of that second act, this play will be the beginning of a bright second act in her life!
Easy-on-the budget super gift for yourself and your musical loving friends. Tons of gorgeous pictures.
Leonard Maltin's 2007 Movie Guide
At This Theater