Barry Humphries: Eat Pray Laugh, Opera House, Manchester - review

Eat Pray Laugh.
Eat Pray Laugh.

Can the purple reign of housewife superstar Dame Edna Everage really come to an end here in Manchester?

At the final curtain of his first of five nights his close friend, and creator, Barry Humphries slyly asked the audience to promise to come to his next farewell tour but at the age of 80 perhaps there’s all the more reason to treasure the memories of a craftsman comic actor at work. This was a night of supremely wicked comedy.

Through his outrageous monster of a drag act he has created a character who refracts bigotry, “saying things others wish they could say” as he puts it. It’s often wince-inducing humour that proved too much for at least one audience member here, provoked to barrack him from the balcony but put in her place by fellow audience members as much as Humphries himself.

If easily offended, then your sensibilities are fair game for Edna and ‘her’ tribe of equally-appalling Australian grotesques.

The final farewell is Saturday, with the added poignancy that Humphries’ grandfather left Manchester in 1888 to settle in Australia. He might never have imagined how his grandson would retire back here.

David Upton