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There’s nothing like an Edna

Dame Edna Everage, the housewife who became a star, goes on a farewell tour 

Isabel Lloyd | November/December 2013

Long before there were slebs, or Heat, or Twitter, there was Edna. Born on a Melbourne stage in 1955, she may have started out as a simple housewife from Moonee Ponds, but it wasn't long before Barry Humphries, the man beneath the lilac chiffon, saw the possibilities of unfettering her from suburbia. She became first a Dame, then a mega-, now a gigastar, and the saccharine egomania of modern celebrity got the satire it deserved. Some critics have found it hard to distinguish between Edna's Olympian lack of taste and Humphries', but the two have shared the same body for so long it probably no longer matters. Humphries turns 80 next year, and Edna is on her last grand tour before she hangs up the gladioli, but his improvisational glee is as sharp as ever and the show—an absurd, bespangled and sly pantomime—is perfect for the season. So long, possums. ~ Isabel Lloyd

Eat, Pray, Laugh! Palladium, London, Nov 13th to Jan 5th; then touring

 

THEATRE AT A GLANCE

American Psycho (Almeida, London, Dec 3rd to Jan 25th). Hardbodies, murders and executions, the problems of abusive authority as addressed by Phil Collins—you can just feel the fun Rupert Goold is going to have with this new, musical version of Bret Easton Ellis's bitter little pill of a novel.

Drawing the Line (Hampstead, London, Dec 3rd to Jan 11th). The latest pas-de-deux from the Two Howards—Brenton and Davies—is a fascinating collision of the personal and the political: the true story of the ill-qualified British grandee who drew the India-Pakistan border in 1947.

Wendy & Peter Pan (RSC, Stratford, Dec 10th to Mar 2nd). From "Boys" to Lost Boys: the still-young playwright Ella Hickson, more usually an acute observer of modern teens and twentysomethings, turns her attention to the past with a Wendy-centric adaptation of J.M. Barrie's childhood classic.

Coriolanus (Donmar, London, Dec 6th to Feb 8th). "No you’re not imagining it," quoth the hollywoodnews.com. "Loki and Mycroft Holmes will be in a play together!" Rough translation for non-fanboys and girls: Tom Hiddleston plays the warrior of almost mythical ability; Mark Gatiss, making his Shakespeare debut, is the preternaturally clever patrician Menenius. So maybe that line wasn’t far off the mark.

Ciara (Traverse, Edinburgh, Dec 3rd to 21st). David Harrower's one-hander, in which Blythe Duff played the daughter of a Glaswegian gangster with terrifying accuracy, won a Fringe First at Edinburgh in August. Now it gets a second showing, presumably for the benefit of all the locals who left town during the festival.

Stephen Ward (Aldwych, London, from Dec 3rd). A rather bald, unalluring title for a musical about ripe real-life sexual-political intrigue; though perhaps "Profumo!" wouldn’t have quite cut it either. Andrew Lloyd Webber's latest, co-written with Christopher Hampton and Don Black, has the essentially dignified Alexander Hanson as Ward, and Anthony Calf—an actor adept at the comedy of repression—as Lord Astor, which may give some idea of where Lloyd Webber's sympathies lie. ~ IL

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