Monthly Archive for: ‘March, 2015’

Dame Edna needs a truncated more intimate setting

DAME EDNA’S Glorious Goodbye: The Farewell Tour.  By Dr. Barry Humphries AO CBE. Directed by Simon Phillips. SHN Orpheum Theatre, 1192 Market St., San Francisco. 888-746-1799 or March 17- 22, 2015

Dame Edna needs a truncated more intimate setting. Rating: ★★★☆☆

There are farewell tours that become second and third farewell tours. The inimitable, indomitable Dame Edna Everage (nee the multitalented Barry Humphries) the Melbourne Australian housewife has barged into San Francisco again with her second farewell tour. She graced the Curran stage in 2009 with Dame Edna: My First Last Tour and although she insists that this present hilarious spectacle is all unrehearsed big segments have been recycled from previous shows and that is not bad. At the curtain call her creator (and alter ego) Barry Humphries takes center stage and suggests that we cannot believe all that the mega-star Dame Edna tells us suggesting that a final, final tour is possible. But at age 81 it is time for her/him to hang up the purple wig, cat’s eye glasses and return to his native Australia and reap further honors for his intellectual and artistic life.

Barry Humphries is a true Renaissance man as a multifaceted intellect; actor/author/artist and has an honorary law degree from the University of Melbourne plus CBE from the Queen of the British Empire. His landscape paintings are much sought after. But we are not here to praise Mr. Humphries but to enjoy and be more than mildly appalled by the satiric bards of his creation (alter ego?) Dame Edna. Humphries insists that he, like Eddie Izzard (who will be in the Bay Area soon) is not a “cross-dresser” but an accomplished actor who has brought Dame Edna to life on the stage and in television.

Dame Edna was created in 1955 and she has parlayed her shtick into a mega personality and does not hesitate to tell her “possums” (those in the better seats) and to those in the cheap seats in the upper balcony she will give them attention “in exact proportion to what you have paid.” To her, all are her inferiors and should be prepared for her cutting remarks that often are risqué double entendres (“how long I lived with my husband’s prostate hanging over my head”).

Dame Edna’s brilliant timed improvisations are fortified by her withering glances and astonished look on her pliant face. Be warned not to sit in the front rows since much of her performance is directed to those seats and in the second act a man and a woman are brought on stage for a mock marriage. On opening night Dame Edna met her match with a diminutive matriarch who almost stole the skit.

Much of the show is actually audience participation especially with her signature finale with gladiolas thrown to the front rows and there is a semi-sing-a-long as her possums wave and clap on cue giving her the obligatory standing ovation she insists she deserves.

To buttress the show there are four dancers joining her for the musical numbers with onstage piano accompaniments by Jonathan Tessero. The show begins and ends with video clips that in themselves are worth a visit to the cavernous Orpheum Theatre.  However, Dame Edna’s sotto voice does not lend itself to amplification and some of the more delicious lines are garbled. When Dame Edna made her San Francisco debut in 1998 at the intimate Theatre on the Square, her scheduled brief stay was parlayed into a four month gig. If you plan on seeing this hysterical put down and becoming one of Dame Edna’s “possums” you will have to hurry since there are only seven local performances before it moves on eventually ending in Palm Springs the mecca for retirees who most probably will give her the standing ovation she demands and almost deserves. Running time 2 hours and 20 minutes with the intermission.

Cast: Barry Humphries  as Dame Edna; ensemble, Ralph Coppola, Brooke Pascoe, Eve Prideaux & Armando Yearwood, Jr.

Artistic Staff: Jonathan Tessero , musical director & onstage accompanist ;  set design, Brian Thomson; choreographer, Eve Prideaux; lighting design,  Aaron Spivey; musical supervisor, Andrew Ross; Songwriter (You Will Have to Do Without Me Somehow & Me Time), Wayne Barker; costume design to Dame Edna, Stephen Adnitt.

Kedar K. Adour, MD

Courtesy of

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