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Carrie Fisher on Broadway: What did the critics think?

October 5, 2009 | 11:02 am

Fisher

She will always be remembered for playing Princess Leia in "Star Wars," but for die-hard theater fans, Carrie Fisher's career roller-coaster ride provides more excitement per minute than any of the galactic battles she's had to fight on the movie back lot.

Fisher opened her latest stage production, "Wishful Drinking," on Broadway over the weekend. The one-woman show, which is playing at Studio 54, had its world premiere at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles in 2006.

During its Geffen run, The Times' theater critic Charles McNulty called the production "a Beverly Hills yard sale of juicy anecdotes." He faulted the production for its patchwork structure, suggesting that a more appropriate venue would be a lounge. But overall, he found Fisher's performance to be "hilariously ennobling."

With a new director -- Tony Taccone -- this revamped version of the play has Fisher, 52, holding forth on her Hollywood upbringing, rise to stardom with "Star Wars," her on-again, off-again battle with drugs and depression and her rebirth as a novelist.

So how did New York critics react to Fisher's latest act of Hollywood soul-baring? Keep reading to find out...

Ben Brantley of the New York Times described the show as a "brut-dry, deeply funny memoir of a show," adding that the writer-actress possesses a "disarming, entre-nous presence that she brings to live performance." He summed up Fisher's performance by writing: "She has the gift, possessed by only the smartest and most charming of narcissists, of making you think that it’s somehow all about you when of course it’s all about her."

Variety's David Rooney wrote that the show "is a journey to self-knowledge that rushes through the bumpiest part of the trip -- the addiction years -- always en route to the punchline." While he found many of the jokes to be funny and Fisher's avoidance of self-pity to be admirable, he criticized her for "continuing to skate along the jokey surface, thus reducing the emotional stakes and robbing the show of a strong narrative arc."

Michael Kuchwara of the Associated Press called Fisher "a raconteur in the best sense of the word." He added that the show goes on for too long but concluded that the show "is as affecting as it is good fun."

Bloomberg's John Simon wrote that if you come to the show knowing nothing about Fisher, "you’ll find the evening revelatory and entertaining. If, alas, you already know too much about her -- if you have followed Fisher through various writings, interviews, television and film work -- you may find the show a bit too self-indulgent and saying nothing new."

Elysa Gardner of USA Today wrote that Fisher's "generous, humble spirit ensures that 'Drinking' is a perfectly pleasant trifle — nothing that requires or inspires great emotional commitment, but fine for a one-night stand."

-- David Ng

Photo: Carrie Fisher in her Broadway show "Wishful Drinking." Credit: Joan Marcus / Associated Press

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