Carrie Fishers' one woman show is a delightful piece of theater and makes you feel you are spending an evening with this witty, intelligent star in the cozy comfort of her own posh living room. I don't always make note of set design, but this set by David Korins, was a warmly lit, richly colorful, multidimensional representation of a southwestern styled den and screening room which really drew me in and showcased Carrie's casual, energetic style of storytelling perfectly.
When Fisher puffs on her electronic cigarette speaking excitedly about her days as cultural icon, Princess Leia, while perched on the edge of a comfy leather sofa or tiptoes right off the proscenium into the audience to hand out free drink coupons to the front row, you feel that she has actually brought her home to you. You feel that Carrie wants you to join her for some Hollywood gossip and a cup of tea - well not tea exactly, maybe some Vicodin and a tumbler of martinis.
Carrie Fisher has a laugh at her own unique childhood growing up as the daughter of stars Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds. She has a fantastic line about when Elizabeth Taylor’s husband, Mike Todd, died in a plane crash, Carrie's father “Eddie rushed to Elizabeth's' side to comfort her in her grief ...and eventually worked his way around to Elizabeth Taylor's front.”
Carrie tells the younger audiences members who might not know the history of her superstar parents that the huge amount of publicity from this dramatic love triangle would be cast today with Brad Pitt, Jennifer Anniston and Angelina Jolie.
Carrie Fisher pokes fun at and tries to come to terms with the supper massive success of her character Princess Leia and the Star Wars Trilogy at age 19, describing how George Lucas convinced her not to wear a bra under her Princess costume stating that it was necessary for realism because “there is no underwear in outer space”. She also has fun onstage with some of the seemingly endless series of toys, memorabilia and merchandise that came out of the role including a life size Princess Leia' Love Doll,
a “Mr. Potato Head Princess Leia” and a PEZ dispenser. My prayer for Carrie Fisher is that she got a piece of the billion dollars in merchandising that is still being earned on all these licenses written into her contract at some point.
I remember standing in a long line to see the first Star Wars with my family as an impressionable eleven-year-old and although I had a crush on Harrison Ford, I was deeply impressed by the appearance of a feisty, brown eyed, brown-haired royal princess who was pensive instead of bubbly and a little bit smarter than she was pretty.
I think Carrie Fisher’s casting as Princess Leia back in 1976 was one of the first times I remember seeing a young, powerful woman cast as a lead in her own right and not just as the lead males' love interest. In other words Carrie Fisher's character at age 19, was written with enough meat and intelligence to be placed in the center of the giant Star Wars movie poster, not just working her cleavage “off to the left”.
I also remember first hand when Carrie Fishers' best selling book “Postcards from the Edge” came out and was made into a hit movie that Fisher also wrote the screenplay for starring Meryl Streep and Shirley Maclaine. At the time I was so inspired and influenced by her candor and acerbic wit regarding the entertainment industry at large and that she was able to parlay an acting career into a writing career with huge success.
Like Karen Carpenter who first made the disease of anorexia a household term, or Rita Hayworth, whose public illness pioneered the way for Alzheimer's patients, I also remember firsthand how important and groundbreaking it was when Carrie Fisher came out in the press about being Bi- Polar.
There is a great moment in the show when Carrie talks about the new electro shock treatment and her
“invitation” to stay in a mental hospital. She asks the audience if any of them have ever been “invited” to stay at a mental hospital, and only one brave soul raised his hand. My grandmother Lillian was a classic Bi Polar, with very high highs and predictable plunging lows in her thinking patterns and speech.. I grew up knowing that she was undergoing the early form of electro-shock treatment, which erases several months of memory and watching her succumb in misery to the various heavy-duty drugs available at the time like Lithium. It was very difficult to witness let alone explain to my friends what she was going through partly because at that time very few public figures, if any, had spoken openly about their struggles with manic depression in the press.
Fisher has since appeared on the Senate floor to urge state legislators to increase government funding on medication for people living with mental health issues. Carrie is very courageous to have written openly about her own illness and drug dependencies because through her wonderful and witty sense of humor she has helped pave the way to removing the stigma still associated with mental illness in our society.
Of course, Carrie's show has some interesting tidbits about her marriage and divorce from singer Paul
Simon, including some of the lyrics he wrote about her describing her “cold coffee eyes” and from Hearts and Bones “One and one-half wandering Jews, (Carrie being the “half Jew”) returned to their natural coasts...to speculate who had been damaged the most.”
Carrie Fishers casting as the fictional Princess Leia in the Star Wars Trilogy may have both
“made her” and broken her at the same time, but as an activist, and an accomplished writer - a Critics Circle' Award winning, New York Times best-selling , Grammy and Emmy nominated author in her own right, Carrie Fishers' identity as genuine Hollywood royalty is not a work of fiction.