“A Night With Dame Edna” is not a normal theater experience. Well, that’s an understatement.
Dame Edna Everage, the cross-dressing comedian from Australia, has been peddling her/his comedy for over 50 years. While the dame has been donning her heels since 1956, she hasn’t lost it. Her two-hour, one man/woman show keeps the audience tearing up with laughter. Luckily for Tampa, the dame graced the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center with her presence, playing seven shows from Sept. 17-22.
The show starts with a video diary of Dame Edna’s greatest hits. This would be boring, if it wasn’t set to a rap, performed by the dame herself. From her song and dance entrance, complete with “Ednaettes,” to her song and dance finale, Dame Edna rides a non-stop roller coaster of timely jokes, some even Florida-specific, thinly veiled sexual innuendo and unforgivable insults.
The biggest sufferers of this are the audience. The show should actually be called, “A Night With Dame Edna … and her Unsuspecting Audience.” No one in the first five rows is safe. If people didn’t want to eat pasta in front of a live audience, have their shoe “read” to tell their fortune or sort her dead husband’s soiled clothes, they should have bought tickets in the mezzanine. Even then they wouldn’t have escaped her barbs; Edna shamelessly took to calling the mezzanine denizens “paupers.” Even those absent had a chance to be put in the spotlight. With perhaps her funniest gag, Edna called a member of the audience’s mother and invited her to Sunday’s show. It was a riot to her poor, unsuspecting woman on the other line.
Dame Edna is probably an acquired taste. And it takes about five minutes of her show to swallow her humor. But once the audience realizes they are there to have fun, it’s easy. Dame Edna is outlandish, in purple and pink fur costumes, singing horribly and throwing gladiolas into the audience.
But without her eccentricity, Dame Edna wouldn’t be funny, entertaining or worth seeing. While college students may not be her demographic, her humor appeals to all ages, Even the eight-year-old girl in the audience.
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