The Bitter Tears of Petra Van Kant, Rainer Werner Fassbinder's 1973 film of a lesbian love affair gone wrong, comes to an Off-Broadway stage known for its decadence - Henry Miller's Theatre, which, under the name the Kit Kat Klub, first housed Sam Mendes' revival of Cabaret. The play, adapted by Barbara Saurman and Ian Belton from Dennis Calandra's translation, opens Dec. 11 after beginning performances Nov. 30.
Fassbinder's original film was set entirely in Petra's bedroom during her 35th birthday party. Recently divorced, the wealthy, arrogant fashion designer found herself falling for a beautiful 23-year-old woman named Karin. Determined to mold the girl into a model, she is, instead, betrayed as Karin runs off with a handful of her money. Now, on her birthday, she lashes out at everyone around her until her berated assistant surprises her with an unexpected gift.
Originally involved in Munich's Action Theater, modeled on American Julian Beck's Living Theater, Fassbinder made over 40 films between 1969 and 1982, including the Cannes prize-winning "Ali Fear Eats the Soul," "The Marriage of Maria Braun" and "Lola." He died of heart failure brought on by a mixture of cocaine and sleeping pills in 1982.
Belton directs. His credits include directing a new translation of Ionesco's The Picture for Sanctuary Theatre, Borrego, Sincerity Forever and designing the video, sound and sculpture for the Court Theatre and Theatre for a New Audience's Iphigenia Cycle.
Rebecca Wisocky stars as Petra. Also in the cast are Anita Durst as Marlene, Rosalyn Coleman (Seven Guitars) as Sidonie and Tami Dixon as Karin/Gabi. The design team features Jeff Cowie (sets), Greco (costumes), Rick Martin (lighting) and Darron West (sound).
For The Bitter Tears of Petra Van Kant, Henry Miller's Theatre will be converted into an intimate 199 seat house. Tickets are $42. Henry Miller's Theatre is located at 124 West 43rd Street. For reservations, call (212) 279-4200.
— By Christine Ehren