Eat, Pray, Laugh: Barry Humphries’ farewell tour at the London Palladium
Now approaching 80, Barry Humphries has decided to bring his stage career to an end, consigning iconic characters Sandy Stone, Les Patterson and of course Dame Edna Everage to the realm of memory. This farewell tour, which has already toured in Australia, brings them to the stage one last time.
The stage is decorated as a garden, with a brightly coloured potting shed, a rake and fake plastic turf covering everything – even the piano. Patterson enters dressed in lurid orange shorts, yellow crocs with black socks and a garish Hawaiian shirt. The vulgarity, offensive jokes and overall foulness of character begin instantly; he showers the first few rows with globs of spittle to the delight of all who are not sitting within spitting distance.
There are a few stony faces in the audience, with some perhaps mistakenly conflating the profane outpourings of Les Patterson with the views of Humphries himself. Patterson’s performance includes a live cooking demonstration, audience interaction and a great deal of fart noises, which do get a bit wearying – but Humphries’ ability to relate an anecdote is impressive and the audience is enraptured by his rambling stories. Patterson’s paedophilic priest “brother” Gerard follows – Humphries’ most recent creation, a slightly shallower character than the rest. Then there is a less comic and more sombre monologue from Sydney Stone.
But it is Dame Edna who is given the biggest welcome, and deservedly so. Humphries seems most comfortable in this character, sparring sharply and wittily with members of the audience. She offers withering put downs aimed at their fashion sense, their answers to questions or just at them in general (“You’re an interesting looking lady… compared to the woman next to you anyway”). The audience, even the poor objects of Dame Edna’s attention, is in constant fits of laughter and the show builds to a suitably touching climax, ending with an appearance from Barry Humphries himself.
The whole show is gratifying proof that good comedy can last – Edna Everage first appeared on stage 58 years ago. Beneath the brash, crude, innuendo-laden exterior is complex, provocative and deeply satirical comedy. With Humphries’ retirement, comedy bids farewell to one of its greats.
Eat, Pray, Laugh: Barry Humphries’ Farewell Tour is at the London Palladium until 5th January 2014. For further information or to book visit Barry Humphries’ website here.
Watch Barry Humphries speak about his farewell tour here: