Theater: Dirty Blonde

By Claudia Shear

Mae West scandalized Broadway in the 1920s, provoked the movies' Hays Office in the '30s with her sexual innuendo, and has lived on for generations of cult fans. In this downtown hit just transferred to Broadway, two of those fans--a part-time actress (Shear) and a mousy film archivist (Kevin Chamberlin)--meet and bond over Mae. Cleverly interweaving an odd-couple romance with a recap of West's career, the play rises above typical stage biodrama--but not far enough. Shear's nifty West impression aside, this sentimental trifle seems a pretty self-indulgent way to justify a playwright's old-movie obsessions.

--By Richard Zoglin

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