Farewells bring with them a sense of occasion – yet all too often a feeling of anti-climax.
Not so for Barry Humphries, whose final tour, Eat, Pray and Laugh, had the comic throw out an electrifying performance to the delight of a packed Leeds Grand Theatre.
While many of Humphries’ contemporaries fail to have crossover appeal for younger people, the Aussie octogenarian transcends the gap with a mix of bad taste and razor-sharp wit – neither of which will ever go out of fashion.
The show began with Sir Les Patterson, spitting vulgar home truths at the first three rows. Punctuated by lecherous groans and un-PC anecdotes, Sir Les remains a wonderfully satirical swipe at an old, uncultured ruling class, providing a perfect foil for Dame Edna’s second half appearance.
What makes Edna so special is she makes best use of all of Humphries’ talents – a grandiose stage presence, overpowering absurdity and passive aggressive nature that remains irresistible 58 years after her inception.
Her unrivalled ability to interact with her audience, delightfully lampooning the crowd’s very English underlying nervousness, culminated in “marrying” two strangers on stage – and calling the “groom”’s mother to tell her.
To commend Humphries for performing for two hours-plus despite his age is to do him a disservice. His star continues to shine long after others’ have burned out.