SHE may be best known for her greeting of “Hello possums” but one of Australia’s best-known exports will be coming to the Capital to wave us one final goodbye.
Comedian Barry Humphries aka Dame Edna Everage, who announced his retirement in March this year, will be performing the Scottish leg of his farewell tour at the Festival Theatre in November 2013.
Though the star of the Eat Pray Laugh show is likely to be the larger-than-life dame, who promises to “empower” her audience as she tackles the big issues of gender, ethnicity and climate change, the show will also see turns by Humphries’ alter-alter egos, the boorish Sir Les Patterson and elderly gentleman Sandy Stone.
Speaking exclusively to the Evening News, Dame Edna said: “It’s a long time since I’ve been in Edinburgh and most of the people who flocked to see me last time have sadly passed away. I, on the contrary, am at the height of my powers as an artiste and a woman.
“This is the best stage show I have ever done and when they asked me where in the British Isles I wanted to perform most I said ‘Edinburgh’. When I was last in your beautiful city the Lord Provost temporarily renamed it ‘Ednaburgh’ and I know that it’s on the cards that this will happen again. I’ve missed you, possums, don’t miss me.”
The show has already toured Australia, where extra dates were added due to popular demand. It is directed by award-winning theatre director Simon Phillips, also responsible for the original Priscilla Queen of the Desert.
Duncan Hendry, chief executive of Festival and King’s Theatres Edinburgh, said: “We’re delighted that Dame Edna is visiting us on her farewell tour. We very much look forward to seeing her return to the stage of the Festival Theatre, sharing this special show with Edinburgh audiences.”
Dame Edna last visited the Festival Theatre for the 75th Royal Variety Performance in 2003, where she was pictured with the Queen, Luciano Pavarotti and Gloria Estefan.
Performing since the mid-1950s, Dame Edna is one of Australia’s most recognisable characters. An interview with Everage, then just a “Mrs”, was broadcast on the first day of programming of Oz’s first TV channel, HSV-7, in 1956.
However, Edna didn’t come to the UK until the 1960s, where she was given a less than glowing review of her appearance at The Establishment, owned by Peter Cook. Humphries has always acknowledged Cook’s help in introducing the character to a British audience.
Edna became a dame when the title was bestowed upon her by Australian prime minister Gough Whitlam during a sketch in the Barry McKenzie film Bazza Holds His Own in 1974.
As well as hosting popular talk shows, Dame Edna also appeared as a character in Ally McBeal and acted as a correspondent during the last year’s royal wedding.
• Eat Pray Laugh will be at the Festival Theatre, November 5-9, 2013. For tickets, call 0131-529 6000.