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Review: 'Wishful Drinking,' the life of a 'princess'

Samuel Beckett said "Nothing is funnier than unhappiness," and Carrie Fisher is here to prove he's still right.

And she should know. In "Wishful Drinking" - her personable, almost excruciatingly personal autobiographical show and gossip-fest - the witty actress/author clearly appreciates the absurdity of her own tabloid-ready life.

How cleverly she fills in the blanks - headlines floating across a "Star Wars" cosmos - for theatergoers not even born when famous-father Eddie Fisher left famous-mother Debbie Reynolds (and two babies) for even more famous Elizabeth Taylor in 1956. And - just in case anyone doesn't connect the barefoot 50-something woman in the duster and roomy black pajamas with the one frozen forever as lovely young Princess Leia - Fisher spends much of the show with a cinnamon-bun wig on her head.

Grotesque? Yes, but in a smart-cookie way. You see, Fisher is the sort of person who makes sure she mocks herself before anyone else can. She also knows a good story when she lives it. Drugs and alcohol? Rehab and mental institutions? Divorces from Paul Simon and from a Hollywood agent who left her for another man? And a dead gay friend in her bed? As Fisher sees it, this is material begging to be confronted and enjoyed in public - not just postcards from the edge, but live onstage with glitter and an R2D2 throw pillow on the divan.

The show, tenderly directed by Tony Taccone and developed at his Berkeley Repertory Theatre, does teeter on the uh-oh edge of self-help inspiration during the meandering second act, and the audience-participation bits are pretty stale. But the visual aids are bliss, including a blackboard for Fisher's merciless Hollywood Inbreeding 101.

She makes an expert witness to fame in all its ridiculousness and peril, who knows that celebrity is "obscurity biding its time." She's a loose cannon with satirist's discipline, a still-crazy-after-all-these-years survivor who knows how it feels to have been a Princess Leia Pez dispenser and an entry in the abnormal psychology textbook. The item about her has a photo, which, naturally, we get to see.

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