Edna EverageFifty years of gladdie trembling were uproariously celebrated by Barry Humphries and his various personas in Her Majesty’s Theatre in a sparkling and hilarious romp before a packed and delighted audience (“I don’t think of you as an audience so much as a focus group,” Dame Edna explained). It was clear at the very first centre-stage revelation of the Dame in piquant pink to the final bow of Barry Humphries himself that we were in the presence of a master.

This must surely be one of the greatest actors of our time. His ability to portray three varied and contrasting characters in such quick succession, so consistently over half a century, without losing energy or vitality, and maintaining such irreverent relevance is nothing short of remarkable. Furthermore, it is also no mean feat to command the stage and keep the crowd rolling in the aisles for two and a half hours at the age of 73 – or at any age for that matter.

It was the care of the aged – or perhaps the lack of it – which was the focus for the ghost of Sandy Stone’s poignant and reminiscent monologue in his overstuffed 1940’s armchair and his comfy jarmies and dressing gown, clutching his hottie. While interspersed with gentler humour, the fact that services are often cut to avoid litigation (“…the ‘carers’ are not allowed to give comfort anymore”) was clearly conveyed.

There is nothing gentle about Sir Les Patterson, who remains as disgusting as ever. He literally sprays the audience with his crassness, clutching and displaying his trouser protruberances, (“Are you looking at my pianist? Let’s get him up!”), scratching his bum, and making lewd and often side-achingly funny references to the peccadilloes of politicians, priests and Kerry Packer.

But the undisputed star of the evening is the redoubtable and flamboyant Dame Edna Everage. In an amazing frock full of spangle and dangle she had the adoring audience revelling in political incorrectnesses that few could get away with, and delighted selected audience members with insulting remarks about their clothes, their looks or their hair. Again, politicians Howard to Bush, Beasley to “that little Julia Gillard who needs elocution lessons” were mercilessly lambasted. The thought that Mr Rudd (“Possums, do we really want a Prime Minister called Kevin?”) will always look like a dentist will stay with us for some time!

A mock wedding, several songs, with the lithe and tuneful “Gorgeous Ednaettes” and musical director Andrew Ross, as well as a pleasant video pastiche of reminiscences of the last 50 years on stage were all part of this remarkable performance. So were pertinent local references, showing clear evidence of excellent homework, and an admirable ability to weave spontaneity with script, and masterful audience involvement and control.

Needless to say, it culminated in the throwing, waving and trembling of dozens of gladioli, and a standing ovation for this genius of the stage. We all left still smiling, and gladdie that we were there.

Barry Humphries (and friends)

Her Majesty’s Theatre, Adelaide
Wednesday – Sunday, June 27 – July 22 2007
$60.80 - $55.85

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