Monday, September 21, 2015

Applause! Applause! Review of Dina Martina: Flat & Lacking at The Laurie Beechman Theatre by Dr. Thomas Robert Stevens

This review of Dina Martina: Flat & Lacking at The Laurie Beechman Theatre was written by Dr. Thomas Robert Stevens and published in Volume X, Issue 5 (2015) of the online edition of Applause! Applause!

Dina Martina: Flat & Lacking
Created by Grady West
The Laurie Beechman Theatre
407 West 42nd Street
New York, New York 10036
Reviewed 9/20/15  

The creation of Seattle performance artist Grady West, Dina Martina (a tragic mess straight out of a John Waters' movie) appears to be half-raccoon and half-bear. Her over-applied make-up and hairy back are certain to scare small children, and more than a few adults as well. Appearing in a black gown with a black wig, Dina Martina opened the show wandering through the sold-out audience singing a few numbers into a large microphone held in place with a brace strapped to her head. She intentionally sang the songs in an affected manner (described by others as the sound of "screeching cats") and added to that some crazy dance moves, which were expected by her legions of devoted fans. Although it's supposed to be funny because she is such a bad singer (her own website describes her as "a tragic singer, horrible dancer, and surreal raconteur"),  I felt the novelty of her off-beat singing style got old real fast. Nevertheless, Dina Martina has a huge fan base specifically because she appears to be completely oblivious regarding her inability to carry a tune or for that matter, to find clothing that fits her. One might view her as a demented gal living out her delusion of being a star but with the quick wit and sharp timing that almost makes it work. I think you will either love her or hate her - she's that kind of performer! 

Ms. Martina asked who in the audience never saw her perform before. Perhaps a quarter of the house raised their hands and she observed, "Isolated Pockets of People" but "Hot Pockets nevertheless." For these newcomers, she gave a short bio of Dina Martina's earlier life. She said she was born in the Appalachian Mountains but "moved to Las Vegas with her mother, who wanted to fulfill her lifelong dream of becoming a compulsive gambler." She never knew her father, "who died in childbirth." She said she has a "swimmers build, hates GMOs and loves to cook," and that she was a fashion model for the braille community. Finally, she said she is still single "due to an unwritten agreement between herself and all men."

While charitable causes have always been an important part of her life, she admits that Dina Martina's Pink Eye Foundation has given up looking for a cure or vaccine to prevent pink eye. They simply reached a point where they no longer cared and placed the issue beyond the back burner, more like between the back of the stove and the wall. The good news is that she has a new cause, that of finding a cure for melanoma in dogs. Their planned fundraiser is "a 10k drive to IHOP in Bushwick." While there, they have decided to eat at IHOP because if they didn't, "it would be like traveling all the way to Europe and not visiting the Pyramids." She is working on a new CD entitled Dina Martina: If This Ever Goes To Trial and during costume changes, we saw two videos. The first was her hawking a fictitious video entitled Remakes From The 1980s where she takes bad song videos and remakes them with her in them. She encourages you to buy them and instead of offering a money back guarantee, she promises "if you don't like it, you don't have to watch it." The second video is about a product called PlentiDerm, a botox-style injectable product that adds volume to your cheeks. It is made from carrion, which is the decaying flesh of dead animals, and scares French women. Dina Martina also announced she was selling tee shirts after the show, which were made by "very small hands in foreign places."

Dina Martina appeared on stage in a batman outfit and in an elegant pink gown with the back completely open, showing off the bear side of this larger-than-life creature. She is an excellent storyteller, who relayed a fictitious encounter she had with Maya Angelou, who told her "that which doesn't make us stronger, kills us." She also told us about a dream she had of her "baby-shitting" Jesus while Mary & Joseph went out to see the movie 50 Shades of Grey. Jesus was wearing a monogrammed onesie with LBJ ("Little Baby Jesus") on it. I won't ruin the story for you, but all I will say is that it involved shaking the baby, alfredo sauce, and Lyndon Baines Johnson. Dina Martina got through the crisis remembering the following advice her mother gave her, "whenever you find yourself in trouble, pop out your left boob - it's a game changer!"

Dina Martina: Flat & Lacking may not be for everyone, but you will experience more than a few laughs and an enjoyable evening of entertainment. Dina Martina creates the illusion you are watching someone with no real talent. But this Demented Dame is fearless and whether or not she has talent, her jokes and insights are well-written and edgy with many excellent cultural references. Therefore, I recommend you "fly there on a goose" or "put a saddle on your favorite moose" so as not to miss her remaining shows at The Laurie Beechman Theatre. As Dina Martina tells her audience at the end of the show, "If you had a good time tonight, get a butter knife and spread the word." For more information and to purchase tickets, visit 

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