Bettie Page Uncensored | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Bettie Page Uncensored 

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Bettie Page Uncensored, at the Playground. Bettie Page, for anyone who doesn't know, was a pinup model in the 50s and 60s. Prosecution for indecency ultimately drove her into hiding, but her likeness can still be found on bar walls, calendars, and, of course, the Web. In Bettie Page Uncensored, writer-director-producer Michael Flores attempts to show us (per his program note) that "before she was an icon, Bettie Page was a human being." He also purports to present a "no-holds-barred tale of not only her life, but the times in which she lived." He succeeds in the first mission but not the second.

Elisabeth Oas is a sweet, down-to-earth Page, a woman refreshingly comfortable with her sexuality. That's all we see of her, however: Flores's play doesn't offer any real conflict or emotional depth. Page's life and times were wracked by discrimination against women, political opportunism, and sexual repression. Flores's characters discuss these issues but don't enact them and allow viewers to form their own conclusions. The discourse is kept on such an even keel that the inherent drama doesn't touch us. Furthermore, the senator who represents the opposition to Page is a caricature, which dilutes the play's primary source of tension.

The program cover reads "Sometimes a play goes too far. Sometimes...is NOW." On the contrary, Bettie Page Uncensored doesn't go far enough. The play does, however, offer the rare opportunity to see completely naked women without a two-drink minimum. --Kim Wilson

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