DONA FLOR AND HER TWO HUSBANDS: West End Circle.

Aha! People probably will think from the title of "Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands." Liberate women, and they will start having the old bigamy fantasy - which everyone knows is becoming only in men, such as Alec Guinness in "The Captain's Paradise."

But poor old Dona Flor - wait until they see the picture. The only wild fantasies she entertains on her own are traditional laments of a long-suffering, virtuous housewife: "If only my faithful husband weren't so dull" or "If only my exciting husband weren't so unfaithful."

Dona Flor, a middle-class Brazilian who epitomizes the hearth-goddess - she is not only a great beauty and passionate in the marital bed, but cooks devinely and makes the family brandy herself - has both problems. First she marries the sexpot and then, when he drops dead of dissipation, she marries the plodder. It takes a lot of black magic to allow her to end up with both, and she does a powerful lot of protesting before accepting the arrangement, partly justified on the grounds that the returning-from-the-dead husband is legal, too, and besides, he is conveniently invisible to the husband he is cuckolding.

She loves the one because he beat her, stole from her, seduced her friends in front of her, ran off to casinos and brothels, but then made fierce love to her; she loves the other because he is kind enough not to beat her, steal from her, seduce her friends, gamble and go whoring. So much for female hedonism - all she wants is a good man who also makes a good love.

Watching this premise being established is tedious, and Dona Flor's attitude is believable only because it is set in a small, Catholic community in Bahia in 1943. It is only after more than an hour of repetitives scenes of husband one being bad and husband two being good that the two husbands appear together and the comedy begins. Then, with the very appealing Sonia Braga as Flor and a charmingly rag-tag social scene about her, it's good comedy. like Dona Flor's life, it's a matter of waiting very patiently until things get better.