‘Dame Edna’s Glorious Goodbye – The Farewell Tour’ at National Theatre by Jordan Wright

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A fresh breeze blew into town last night and she was wearing rhinestone-encrusted cat eye glasses out to there, and a hot pink fringe gown glittering with Swarovski crystals. Yes, you guessed it – – the internationally infamous, dearly beloved, barb-slinging insultress known familiarly as Dame Edna. Trashing more Washington politicos than the Drudge Report at election time, the saucy senior can take down Jesus and the apostles in one slanderous swoop. “They wore the 50 shades of gray badly,” she sniped to an audience of Dame Edna’s Glorious Goodbye – The Farewell Tour (A meditation on loss, gender, climate change, gay marriage and ethnicity) takes on these weighty issues with showbiz and razzmatazz. Barry Humphries, who first channeled Mrs. Edna Everage in 1955 in Melbourne, Australia, is no stranger to the double-entendre. A veteran of Broadway and London’s West End theatres, the Tony Award-winning performer has been dazzling and dishing with faithful fans for over half a century.

Dame Edna and Bollywood Dancers. Photo credit Craig Schwartz.
Dame Edna and Bollywood Dancers. Photo credit Craig Schwartz.

Directed by Simon Phillips, the glitzy two-acter opens with film clip cameos of Hollywood celebs. Stars as disparate as Charlton Heston, Kelly Osbourne, and Hugh Jackman describe their run-ins with the naughty grandma as the glam goddess tells tales of her shabby Australian past, her dysfunctional children and her husband’s prostate “murmur.” Hoofing is provided by four leggy dancers who surround the mauve-haired wonder with giant purple ostrich fans. Move over Florence Ziegfeld!

Dame Edna with giant purple ostrich fans. Photo by Craig Schwartz.
Dame Edna with giant purple ostrich fans. Photo by Craig Schwartz.

Jonathan Tessero is the production’s Musical Director & Onstage Accompanist and Wayne Barker and Andrew Ross provide the tunes for the caterwauling songstress who describes herself as “the quintessence of kindness.” Never have scandal and sarcasm been such great pals.

In the second act Choreographer Eve Prideaux turns to Bollywood as Dame Edna describes her spiritual adventures in an ashram. “It’s a trailer park for the soul,” she moans as the dancers swirl around her in gold-edged saris.

Dame Edna. Photo by Craig Schwartz.
Dame Edna. Photo by Craig Schwartz.

But the real howls come when, as in years past, she singles out unsuspecting audience members. Claiming to be clairvoyant she tells one, “I believe in past lives and you look as if you might have been something.” Ouch! It hurts so good. To a group of elderly audience members she calls out, “Oh, the seniors are still here! Someone must have topped off their medication.” The zingers fly fast and furiously. You gotta keep up. She is as outrageous as she is captivating and as endearing as a child with Asberger’s (her diagnosis, not mine).

Highly recommended for death-defying irreverence.

Running Time: 2 hours, 15 minutes, including a 20-minute intermission.

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Dame Edna’s Glorious Goodbye – The Farewell Tour plays through April 26, 2015 at The National Theatre – 1321 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, in Washington, DC. For tickets, call the box office at (202) 628-6161, or purchase them online.

RATING: FIVE-STARS-82x1555.gif

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Jordan Wright
Jordan Wright is an accomplished writer on food, spirits, travel, and theatre. Her clients include the tony Georgetowner and hip sister publication the Downtowner, the Washington Examiner and San Francisco Examiner, as well as LocalKicks.com, DC Metro Magazine, Washington Life Magazine, Washingtonian Magazine, MDTheatreGuide.com, The Alexandria Times, Hartkeisonline.com, and now DCMetroTheaterArts. Her articles feature restaurant openings, food and wine events, food-oriented film reviews, farmer’s markets, food trends, restaurant reviews, food memories, new food products, hotels, spas, resorts and interviews with the country’s leading chefs – from Jose Andres and Top Chef’s Carla Hall, to CakeLove’s Warren Brown and Top Chef’s Spike Mendelsohn. She has also interviewed famed chef and TV star, Anthony Bourdain, Eric Ripert, cookbook author Joan Nathan, and director Robert Kenner for an in-depth article about his film Food, Inc. Photographs by Wright accompany many of her articles and NBCNews.com has picked up and used several of her stories. Jordan Wright hails from three generations of show business. Her grandmother, Betty Morton, was a Ziegfield Follies girl; her step-grandmother Corinne Griffith, a noted author and silent screen star wrote Hail to the Redskins; her father, Georgie Price, an entertainer and founder of The Lamb’s Club in New York, as well as a CBS radio show host, songwriter and vaudevillian; her sister, Penny Larsen Vine, a theatre critic both on radio and in print for Variety, a former longtime member of the Outer Critics Circle, and a lead performer in countless national touring companies; one brother, Peter Price, appeared in leading roles in over 16 major motion pictures for MGM; while her other brother, Marshall Price performed at Carnegie Hall. Niece, Stephanie Vine, was the final Annie in the original production of Annie on Broadway, and niece, Liz Larsen, has received two Tony nominations and a Helen Hayes award for lead actress in Sunday in the Park with George. Wright sang with Columbia Records in New York and Barclay Records in France. In the sports world her grandfather was the original owner and founder of the Washington Redskins football team. Wright has traveled throughout four continents and currently resides in Old Town Alexandria.