Friday, October 16, 2009

Theater Review: Wishful Drinking

Treating Dysfunction with Humor
By Lauren Yarger
Her parents were movie stars and she followed in their footsteps to become a Hollywood icon herself, but sometimes stars don’t shine as brightly as we’d like and the only way to find your way through the dark galaxy is to rely on the force—the force of humor, that is.

And that is just what Carrie Fisher, a.k.a. Princess Leia in the “Star Wars” saga, has done to cope as she relates her story, with a lot of laughs included in Wishful Drinking, her delightful one-woman show playing on Broadway at Studio 54.

Her parents’ marriage broke up when her father, crooner Eddie Fisher, left mom Debbie Reynolds of “Singin’ in the Rain” fame for Hollywood legend Elizabeth Taylor in what she calls the “Angelina and Brad” scandal of its time. Both parents married and remarried numerous times after that.

“Things were getting worse faster than we could lower our standards,” she quipped.

In a humorous segment called “Hollywood Inbreeding 101,” she uses video projections and photographs of all the players posted on a blackboard and linked by drawn lines (set, lighting and projection design by Alexander V. Nichols) to try to explain the family tree. It’s no easy task. The goal is to figure out whether her daughter and Taylor’s grandson, who have been dating, are in fact related.

Dressed in black silk pajamas and flowing decorative robe, Fisher, directed by Tony Taccone, interacts with audience members and is funny, yet vulnerable as she relates family stories, including some about her two failed marriages, one to musician Paul Simon. She also makes fun of her intermittent accent and side-winding braided hairdo in her performances as Leia.

She pokes fun at some of the folks in her life, but this isn’t a “bash the people who have hurt me” opportunity that some other one-person shows seem to be. Instead, Fisher shows obvious affection for her mother, who lives next door to her, and respect for a father from whom she has grown distant. She has admiration for her brother, Todd, a born again Christian, whom she offered as evidence that the circumstances you face don’t determine how you’ll turn out, but rather how you handle the circumstances does (her brother apparently has not been diagnosed with bipolar disorder or turned to drug addiction, as Fisher has).

She’s funny and wise, and you come away feeling like you’d like to hang out with this woman who has been able to come through so much while still being so pleasant. At times, she seems to be searching spiritually, too. Sometimes "we only find heaven," she tells us, "by backing away from hell."

Fisher entertains at Studio 54 through Jan. 3. For tickets call (212) 719-1300 or visit For discounted group tickets, and to support Masterwork Productions, click here.

Christians might also like to know:
• Language
• Sexual Dialogue

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Our reviews are professional reviews written without a religious bias. At the end of them, you can find a listing of language, content or theological issues that Christians might want to know about when deciding which shows to see.

** Mature indicates that the show has posted an advisory because of content. Usually this means I would recommend no one under the age of 16 attend.

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

My Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.” She also has written two other dinner theaters, sketches for church services and devotions for Christian artists. Her play "From Reel to Real: The Jennifer O'Neill Story" was presented as part of the League of professional Theatre Women's Julia's reading Room Series in New York in February 2018.

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run.

She was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She writes reviews of Broadway and off-Broadway theater (the only ones you can find in the US with an added Christian perspective) at

She is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection (, an award-winning website featuring theater and arts news for the state. She is a contributing editor for She previously served as theater reviewer for the Manchester Journal-Inquirer, Connecticut theater editor for and as Connecticut and New York reviewer for American Theater Web.

She is a Co-Founder of the Connecticut Chapter of the League of Professional Theatre Women.

Yarger is a book reviewer for Publishers Weekly and freelances for other sites. She is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.

She is a freelance writer and playwright and member of The Drama Desk, The Outer Critics Circle, The American Theater Critics Association and The League of Professional Theatre Women. She served as a judge for the SDX Awards presented by the Society of Professional Journalists. She also is a member of the Connecticut Critics Circle. and the Episcopal Actors' Guild.

A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger also worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and served for nine years as the Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. She lives with her husband in West Granby, CT. They have two adult children.


All material is copyright 2008- 2018 by Lauren Yarger. Reviews and articles may not be reprinted without permission. Contact


Key to Content Notes:

God's name taken in vain -- means God or Jesus is used in dialogue without speaking directly to or about them.

Language -- means some curse words are used. "Minor" usually means the words are not too strong or that it only occurs once or twice throughout the show.

Strong Language -- means some of the more heavy duty curse words are used.

Nudity -- means a man or woman's backside, a man's lower front or a woman's front are revealed.

Scantily clad -- means actors' private areas are technically covered, but I can see a lot of them.

Sexual Language -- means the dialogue contains sexually explicit language but there's no action.

Sexual Activity -- means a man and woman are performing sexual acts.

Adultery -- Means a married man or woman is involved sexually with someone besides their spouse. If this is depicted with sexual acts on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Sex Outside of Marriage -- means a man and woman are involved sexually without being married. If this is depicted sexually on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Homosexuality -- means this is in the show, but not physically depicted.

Homosexual activity -- means two persons of the same sex are embracing/kissing. If they do more than that, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Cross Dresser -- Means someone is dressing as the opposite sex. If they do more than that on stage the listing would include the corresponding "sexual activity" and/or "homosexual activity" as well.

Cross Gender -- A man is playing a female part or a woman is playing a man's part.

Suggestive Dancing -- means dancing contains sexually suggestive moves.

Derogatory (category added Fall 2012) Language or circumstances where women are referred to or treated in a negative and demeaning manner.

Other content matters such as torture, suicide or rape will be noted, with details revealed only as necessary in the review itself.

The term "throughout" added to any of the above means it happens many times throughout the show.

Reviewing Policy

I receive free seats to Broadway and Off-Broadway shows made available to all voting members of the Outer Critics Circle and The Drama Desk, the two professional critics organizations with journalists covering NY theater. Journalistically, I provide an unbiased review and am under no obligation to make positive statements. Sometimes shows do not make tickets available to reviewers. If these are shows my readers want to know about (I review all Broadway shows and pertinent Off-Broadway shows), I will purchase a ticket. If a personal friend is involved in a production, I'll let you know, but it won't influence a review. If I feel there is a conflict, I won't review their portion of the production.

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