Last night I went to the opening night of her majesty Dame Edna’s farewell show at Her Majesty’s called Eat, Pray, Laugh.
On the way in a journalist asked me what I preferred to do. Eat, pray or laugh?
Seeing I’d just eaten, and as an atheist I don’t pray, so the only option was: laugh. And I did. A lot. And so did an adoring packed house. They were there to pay tribute as much as be entertained. Although for generous hours they were mightily entertained.
It was tangible that we were in the presence of a theatrical genius who has been there for most of our lives.
There were the old favourites. Sandy Stone is better than ever. There’s the revolting, expectorating, leering, trouser snake-grabbing Sir Les Patterson in a backyard barbecue situation. Masterchef it’s not. There’s a touch of the ‘ooh, isn’t he awful’ whenever a politically incorrect racist comment comes over the transom.
It still intrigues me how Aussie audiences go into hysterics over fart jokes. And there are plenty of them. Sir Les relies heavily on his bowel movements and the outdoor dunny in the first half. There’s one new character: Brother of Sir Les, a Catholic priest called Gerard. ‘I’ve touched everyone I’ve met’ is one of his lines and he wears an electronic ankle bracelet which goes off when he misbehaves around young boys. The bracelet is bejewelled and far more glamorous than the one I wore. Maybe it is me, and the current campaign, but I was uncomfortable with this segment. Perhaps it’s like the NASA jokes around the time Challenger blew up. Too soon. Maybe we will see the satirical side after a royal commission or after a few more predatory priests have been locked up.
And then there’s Dame Edna. She still owns the stage and the audience. You totally forget that this is a man up there, let alone a 78-year-old – still with glamour pins. Barry Humphries’ Dame Edna is wicked. At times evil. Especially when playing with somebody in the audience like a cat with a mouse. You know it’s going to end badly… for the innocent mouse. You just hope when Edna casts that line into the audience you are not the one that gets hooked, hauled in and hauled on stage.
Several, wisely declined and with the victims on stage on opening night Edna struggled a bit but as always recovered. The ad lib is still razor sharp.
I don’t know if it happens every night but the appearance of the after finale guest, a bosom buddy of Dame Edna’s, is surprisingly emotional. Maybe because you realise you have been in the presence of theatrical genius. And I really believe this is not a Nellie Melba or a Farnham farewell.
If there are any seats left, and I doubt it, grab them. I doubt we’ll ever see the likes of Barry and Edna again. And that’s sad, possums…