Barry Humphries retires as Dame Edna and Sir Les
DAME Edna creator Barry Humphries has revealed his new stage show Eat Pray Laugh! will be his last live tour, saying at the age of 78 it's time to move on.
A legend of stage and screen, Barry Humphries said: "Look, the fact of the matter is that I'm beginning to feel a bit senior. I love it and it's healthy for me.
"It's the best aerobics you could do, leaping around on stage, but it's gruelling when there are other things to do.
"I've got a contract to write another book, there are places I want to go, things I want to do (including) more painting."
Sadly for his adoring fans, Humphries says while he may go on, his much-loved creations Dame Edna, Sir Les Patterson and Sandy Stone might be retired for good.
"Edna will crop up on television, I guess, but not in a live show," he said.
Talking in Sydney exclusively to The Sunday Telegraph, Humphries says this new show, which begins in Canberra on June 22 and takes in Newcastle and Sydney, will be his fond farewell.
He recalls being taken by his parents to a show when he was a child and it featured performers who had "outlived their shelf life".
"It was commented that 'you should have seen him when he was funny'. I want to avoid that being said about me and know that I can't keep doing it," he said.
Eat Pray Laugh! - a reference to Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat Pray Love, which became a 2010 film starring Julia Roberts - is about a journey, he says.
"Les has become a celebrity chef. We'll have a kitchen on stage and Les working away, clearly preparing a meal for political colleagues. Edna, of course, will be discussing her spiritual journey. She's on a journey to find herself, to lose the trappings of mega-stardom and become a real person."
The ghostly Sandy Stone - Humphries' favourite character - will also materialise.
"We'll actually have a seance and the audience will conjure him up miraculously," says Humphries. "He represents the old Australia and I love writing for Sandy.
"I was greatly honoured when the late Sir Alec Guinness asked for a script for Sandy.
"It could be that Alec Guinness might appear instead of Sandy!''
There is also a new character, currently under wraps.
Humphries is collaborating with playwright Joanna Murray-Smith and director Simon Phillips.
"I felt I needed a director and a fellow writer to keep an eye on things and help me create a bridge between the characters so they are not separate monologues, disconnected, but there will be some kind of arc linking them and I thought she would be the perfect person to help," he said.
"I want to make it the best show I've done."