Donning a pink and silver white-feathered dress, a purple wig, and a fairy costume, Dame Edna — also known as actor Barry Humphries — brought style and humor to New Haven’s Shubert Theater Wednesday.
Having just completed a season on “Ally McBeal,” Australian cross-dressing comedian Dame Edna came to the Shubert as part of her most recent tour. The famous old woman’s glitter, glamour, and grandma-like bluntness put the audience on guard and in hysterical laughter at the same time.
After a video introduction with shots of Dame Edna talking with and mocking numerous movie stars including Roseanne and Mel Gibson, she came on the stage singing about her youth in Australia. She waltzed around, dressed in an outrageous pink and silver costume with white feathers lining the bottom.
“I have fallen in love with America and it adores me back,” Dame Edna said in a press release. “People go into withdrawal whenever I’m off their TV screen or the stage of their theater.”
As much as Dame Edna praised her own beauty and fashion sense, much of her attention rested on the audience. The crowd rolled with laughter as she commented on their “boring clothes” and continuously called those people furthest from the stage “paupers.”
“I’ll occasionally look up to all of you paupers, in proportion to how much you paid for your tickets,” Dame Edna said.
During the show, she often glanced up to ask how the “misers” were doing; whenever she spoke of a fancy or expensive activity, she teased that they would not know about it.
Dame Edna shocked the audience with her utter lack of political correctness. She pretended to sign to the “mutes” in attendance, and joked about the idea of “early Alzheimer’s.” After singing about her “special son” Kenny and his friends, she referred to gays as “friends of Kenny” in the same comical tune as her song. She claimed that the reason for some of the empty seats in the theater were seats where old “subscribers” — those who regularly reserve tickets to Shubert performances — “didn’t make it to the show because they — died.”
The crowd especially seemed to enjoy Dame Edna’s singling out of audience members. An old woman named Norma took the most heat.
After asking her name, Edna said, “Oh, what a lovely old name, for such a lovely old woman!” Norma finally snapped when Dame Edna said her outfit looked like a sleeping bag.
The crowd was in hysterics as Dame Edna ended the first half of the show exclaiming “I have the ability to laugh at the misfortunes of others!”
Towards the end of the show, Dame Edna brought some of her earlier “victims” to the stage. She brought two women onstage and made them eat a meal from Hot Tomato’s. She even made a phone call to a mother of one of the men in the audience, introducing herself and asking whether the woman knew her son was attending the performance.
A few members of the audience did not know what to expect when they came to “A Night with Dame Edna.”
“It’s weird to see an old woman up there making fun of everybody,” one man said.
At the very end of her show, Dame Edna danced around in a fairy costume and flung huge flowers out to the crowd, insisting that audience members “wiggle them” to the exiting tune.
The audience obeyed her orders.