The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (Midsumma Festival)
by Melynda von Wayward
Reviewed on Sat, 29/03/2014 - 06:04am
Melynda von Wayward Total Reviews: 36
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The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (Midsumma Festival)The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (Midsumma Festival)
Theatre review by Melynda von Wayward

What: The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (Midsumma Festival)
When: 29 Jan ‚?? 8 Feb, 2014
Where: Theatre Works
Directed by: Gary Abrahams
Performed by: Luisa Hastings Edge, Joanne Trentini, Anna May Samson, Nikki Shiels, Fantine, Banulski, and Uschi Felix
Costumes by Chloe Greaves, Set Design by Romanie Harper

The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant is a theatrical adaptation of the 1972 German film of the same name, Directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder, and based on his own play.

Petra von Kant, played by Luisa Hastings Edge, is a famous fashion designer living the high life in a fast paced world, where looking beautiful and glamorous is everything and demanding of others is expected.

Petra is thin and attractive; she has a successful career and a designer wardrobe that any fashionista would be envious of, but she is not happy. Two disastrous marriages have left her feeling bitter inside, and although she constantly has her faithful assistant Marlene by her side, Petra feels alone in the world.

Marlene, played by Joanne Trentini, is a masochist. A fashion designer herself, her love for Petra and her desire to be dominated compel her to stay in a co-dependant and abusive relationship with her employer. She does everything for Petra and looks after her every desire - makes her cocktails, adjusts her designs, squeezes her fresh orange juice, types her letters, lays out her clothes ‚?? but there is one desire that Marlene cannot fulfill for Petra, that of a lover.

Enter Karin, played by Anna May Samson; a young, attractive woman who is as equally neurotic as both Petra and Marlene. Along with her tragic background, Petra soon falls madly in love with Karin, and offers her a foray into the fashion world as a model. But like most of the women Petra is surrounded by, Karin turns out to be a self-centered vacuous leech who is only interested in Petra for her money and what Petra can do for her.

As the relationship disintegrates so does Petra, and turning to alcohol and drugs to soothe her pain, she ultimately becomes the pathetic, hideous, destructive creature that she so despised in her ex-husband. Of course Karin leaves Petra to go back to her previous life while Petra remains, now devastated and more alone than ever before.

Add a 15 year old daughter who spends all of her time at boarding school, a fashionable ‚??old friend‚?? Sidonie and a Mother who likes to swan around for 6 month vacations, and you have 2 hours of vacuous, but highly fashionable women screaming, crying, throwing tantrums and getting drunk. Quite the clich√© really.

And while I am sure the intention of Rainer Werner Fassbinder and Gary Abrahams was to somehow make the audience see that there is a deeper and philosophical side to Petra von Kant, due to her lying, constant drinking and attitude of entitlement, this never really comes across. Instead it is the character of Marlene that steals the show.

For 2 hours the dedicated Marlene does not utter a single word, but her silence ultimately becomes deafening as her facial expressions and body language speak for her, telling us the story of her personal agony and unrequited love. And the 2 hour silent performance given by the stunning Joanne Trentini, which would be a challenge for any seasoned actress, was nothing short of amazing.

With an elaborate set that is representative of the inside of Petra‚??s apartment, a stunning array of high fashion, and strong performances by all of the actors, this piece of theatre will not only leave you with feelings of ambiguity and pity, but regardless of whether you enjoyed the show or not, it will actually have you thinking and talking about it for days.

On a final note, this show is not for the faint hearted. It contains nudity, swearing, Lesbian themes and above all bitter tears.
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