Saturday, 31 March 2012

Farewell, Possums

Dame Edna Everage with her favourite flower, the gladiolus
Australian comedian Barry Humphries is retiring his famous alter egos, Dame Edna Everage and Les Patterson after he completes a two-year farewell tour of Eat Pray Laugh! that will start in June in Australia.

When I read that in the news I had to go see Dame Edna Everage as she was going to be on stage in Hong Kong with the City Chamber Orchestra of Hong Kong, narrating Peter and the Wolf.

That day came this afternoon and Hong Kong City Hall Concert Hall was filled with mostly parents with young children, though there were some well-known personalities attending including David Tang and his wife Victoria, Sally and Robert Lo and new West Kowloon Arts hub chief Michael Lynch.

After the orchestra players tuned their instruments, the conductor came out and then the spotlight shone on Dame Edna Everage -- housewife, megastar, investigative journalist, social anthropologist, children's book illustrator, chanteuse, swami, adviser to British royalty, grief counsellor, spin doctor and of course icon.

Receiving a bouquet of gladioli
She came out in a fantastically kitsch turquoise gown with lots of sparkles and of course the trademark glasses and mauve coiff carrying a few gladioli that she threw to some members of the audience.

"Hello possums!" she declared. "Let me have a good look at you. You've aged! And yet I haven't! It isn't fair!"

Her humour was very witty and had no qualms making fun of the audience, particularly those "paupers" sitting in the upper seats. And since there were kids in the audience, she would make adult remarks and later added their parents would explain the meaning to their brood later.

Then she launched into asking the audience if they believed in reincarnation, because she claimed in another life she was Serge Prokofiev's mother. Dame Edna said it might not sound like ones they'd heard before because today she was going to give her version of the story.

And she read the story with some dramatic effect, with the wolf not ending up in the zoo, but an animal sanctuary.

There was a 15-minute intermission before Dame Edna came out again, this time in a fuchsia flapper-style dress that showed quite a bit of leg.

This time she read another story called Juanita the Spanish Lobster. "Do you know what a lobster is?" she asked the children. "You've probably seen it in many Chinese restaurants in those filthy tanks."

Dame Edna taking her bows at City Hall Concert Hall
In any event she read and sang the story with lots of rolling r's and did a few dance moves in between. She asked a four-year-old girl to come up on stage with her, but the girl was petrified on stage and hardly moved. The poor little thing was scared of the mega icon.

We also got a bonus, Dame Edna said, adding she wasn't going to charge us extra.

With the conductor at the grand piano, Dame Edna belted out a song about Hong Kong to the tune of New York, New York.

Some of the lyrics had to do with familiar names like Swire and David Tang, but also drew lots of laughs about Henry Tang's basement.

Glad to see Dame Edna in action and sorry to hear she'll be leaving the stage for good.

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