Dame Edna Everage and the Rise of Western Civilisation: Backstage with Barry Humphries / Edition 1

Dame Edna Everage and the Rise of Western Civilisation: Backstage with Barry Humphries / Edition 1

by John Lahr
ISBN-10:
0520223055
ISBN-13:
9780520223059
Pub. Date:
01/04/2000
Publisher:
University of California Press

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Overview

Dame Edna Everage and the Rise of Western Civilisation: Backstage with Barry Humphries / Edition 1

John Lahr is one of the most celebrated critics of the performing arts. Winner of Britain's 1992 Roger Machell Award for the best writing about public performance, Dame Edna Everage and the Rise of Western Civilisation is an insider's account of a great clown and a great act. It takes us backstage at London's Theatre Royal in Drury Lane, with Barry Humphries, and into the weird and wonderful world of his show-stopping creation—Dame Edna Everage.

Humphries is a prodigious comic talent. His copresence in Edna— a character so real to the public that her autobiography, My Gorgeous Life, appeared on the nonfiction list—actively invites speculation about reality and fantasy, male and female. With her "natural wisteria" hair and her harlequin eyeglasses, Dame Edna was the first solo performer to sell out the most famous theater in England, and she also took the United States by storm, filling theaters from coast to coast. Hilarious and malign, polite and rude, highbrow and very low, the character Barry Humphries inhabits is a bundle of contradictions.

John Lahr, the son of another comic genius, takes us behind the scenes to investigate how a provincial dandy from Melbourne transformed himself into one of the most unlikely megastars of today.
In showing the connection between Humphries's comedy and the life it parodies, Dame Edna Everage and the Rise of Western Civilisation goes beyond reportage to an exploration of the nature of comedy, a subject that Lahr has pursued over the years in his acclaimed biographies of Bert Lahr, Noël Coward, and Joe Orton. Richly entertaining and engagingly written, this book is an anecdotal treatise on the nature of comedy and an absorbing inquiry into what makes us laugh.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780520223059
Publisher: University of California Press
Publication date: 01/04/2000
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 254
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.63(d)

About the Author

Praised by the New York Times Book Review as "probably the most intelligent and insightful writer on the theater today," John Lahr has twice won the George Jean Nathan Award for Dramatic Criticism, the last time for his work at the New Yorker, where he writes about theater and popular culture. Mr. Lahr has written sixteen books, among them the novels The Autograph Hound (1973) and Hot to Trot (1974); Notes on a Cowardly Lion: The Biography of Bert Lahr (California, 2000), Light Fantastic: Adventures in Theater (1996), The Orton Diaries (editor, 1986), and Prick Up Your Ears: The Biography of Joe Orton (1978).

Table of Contents

Illustrationsix
Prefacexi
1Dame Edna's Royal Box1
2Dame Edna Teeters on the Brink of Fashion28
3Dame Edna Plays Possum55
4Sir Les Patterson and the Chinese Year of the Trouser Snake103
5Dame Edna's Resonances159
Coda Dame Edna Works the Room224
Acknowledgements241

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