Preview: The Bitter Tears Of Petra Von Kant, Southwark Playhouse, London

The love of self that ruins love of others
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Rainer Werner Fassbinder's play The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant, with an all female cast, is to be performed in Southwark Playhouse's new performance space, the vaults under London Bridge Station.

The play puts a famous fashion designer, Petra, under the microscope as she struggles to cope with the changing dynamics of her dysfunctional relationships with other women.

The control freak designer lives with her slave-like assistant Marlene and falls obsessively in love with a beautiful young girl, Karin. When Karin rejects Petra, the latter turns to the emotionally mistreated Marlene for love, but it looks like she might leave, too.

The play's director, Yvonne McDevitt, describes the play as a "darker Bridget Jones" because Petra "is struggling with the two sides of her life; work and love life". She continues: "I can't understand why it has been so difficult to put this play on in London. Nobody in the theatre world was interested in Fassbinder. If they do know about him they feel it is weird. Does the theatre want classic contemporary plays that fully focus on women and the female experience? I don't mean to be too feminist about it, but it is a play with six female characters and no men."

McDevitt began her career in 1994 as a dramaturg for Robert Wilson at the Opera Bastille. The turning point came in 2002 when she won the Jerwood Directors Award that allowed her to investigate the neglected classic Exiles, staged at the Young Vic.

What enticed McDevitt to put on the Fassbinder play is that she considers it to be a true case study. "My take on Petra is that she suffers from a narcissistic personality disorder and she doesn't know it so that all her relationships are doomed to be messed up.

"Fassbinder's major theme is the unprocessed grief at the root of all contemporary dysfunction. We are unable to acknowledge what we have been through and so we take it out on other relationships."

6 December to 5 January (0870 060 1761;