Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Dame Edna's Glorious Goodbye - The Farewell Tour Theatre Review

Barry Humphries is Dame Edna Everage

The Godmother from Hell

I must admit: I didn't know what to expect from Dame Edna's Glorious Goodbye - The Farewell Tour. Sure I'd heard of her; but I assumed (incorrectly) that all she did was sing. Imagine my delight, when the 81-year-old "megastar" launched into a playful, yet scathing stand-up assault on the audience! Better still, her verbal punches were delivered with the power and dexterity of a Golden Gloves champ. Chris Rock, eat your heart out: This Dame has you beat.

How now brown cow? Her show begins with a "True Hollywood Tales" video montage, featuring pseudo-endorsements from the likes of fellow Aussie Hugh Jackman and Kelly Osbourne. This is where we also learn of Edna's (alleged) ties to Osama Bin Laden, and we ponder the question, "How many people did she trample on the way to success?" It's all in good fun, of course; but before the video's done, Dame Edna (Barry Humphries) interrupts and takes steals the stage.

She opens with a song, appropriately titled "I Need You," but it takes two to tango, and this show lives and dies with its sparklingly-attired star. There's a few gentle jabs aimed at President Obama and Bruce Jenner; but Edna saves her best stuff for the audience. First it's the folks in the "cheap seats," AKA the paupers. She encourages them to clap with one hand, and hang on the rafters with the other. Then it's on to a few folks in front... Paulette, Stephanie, Pauline and (poor) Mary. Nothing too mean, but I doubt you'd want to be on the receiving end of it. Edna is quick-witted and 100% in charge, taking time to mention, "I knew Washington would make me work."

And work she does. The first act is relatively short, bookended by comedic songs (let's just say... she's no BeyoncĂ©) featuring a quartet of young, attractive dancers (especially Brooke Pascoe and Eve Prideaux) and pianist/musical director Jonathan Tessero. The stage (set design: Brian Thomson) is really simple... Tessero on the piano, and a neon-colored giant half-pair of Dame Edna's famous glasses (with the aforementioned video screen tucked inside.) Truth be told, you could have an empty stage and still be mesmerized by the bespectacled, purple-haired goddess.

The second half is decidedly longer; and although she never seems to slow down (not even for a minute or two) her routine runs a wee-bit long. Edna warns, "Don't twist everything I say," but you can't help but laugh throughout, whether she's contemplating the merits of a "retired poet" or a "peach bedroom," that's anything but. Color me surprised; and let's cross our fingers that this isn't the last we see of the "Godmother from Hell."

Grade: B+

Dame Edna's Glorious Goodbye - The Farewell Tour plays through Sunday, April 26th. It runs 2 hours, 15 minutes including a 20-minute intermission. Click here to purchase tickets.