The lucky thing about West's act is that even its occasional comic uncertainty folds right into the insanity of the proceedings; what's unfortunate is the extent to which West and director Kevin Kent depend on it. If Dina is going to thrive and prosper in the next century, her skittish comic logic needs to be surrounded by a more disciplined context. West's unique sensibility is heightened in contrast to a world that plays by more rigid rules. The live TV special format, with its familiar given boundaries, should have provided the walls off which Dina's dysfunction bounces. Except for the ingenious opening titles animated by Webster Crowell and Nina Frenkel, the television conceit is a missed opportunity by the second act.
Despite the random flatness of the evening, the laughs are heavy and relatively constant. Martina's unnerving puppet daughter, Phoebe ("a never-ending joie in my vivre"), is again on hand to be publicly tormented, and Dina spends most of her time spouting confused Christmas sentiments that celebrate "the glint of the snow on a soft summer breeze... or just smiling at a blind person on the street." Dina's famed lyric negotiations, including a tangle with "in excelsis deo," are up to her usual demented standards. To reveal too much else would spoil your own discoveries, though I'll praise the supporting cast that includes the always-welcome Nick Garrison (as Pickles, "the Dina Martina dancer"), and prepare you for a truly deranged Nativity that has the Baby Jesus cooing, "Ich bin ein Berliner."
To quote Ms. Martina, "as we look back on this past decade, and we look forward, after turning around," what's clear is that West has a comic icon who is ripe for a new direction.