Plot[ edit ] Petra von Kant Carstensen is a prominent fashion designer based in Bremen. The room also contains numerous life-size mannequins for her work, though only her assistant Marlene Hermann is shown using them. Her first husband Pierre was a great love, who died in a car accident while Petra was pregnant; the second began the same way, but ended in disgust. First act[ edit ] Petra is shown being awoken by Marlene. She begins her day and gets dressed while her assistant attends to her. Petra makes a phone call to her mother, makes demands of Marlene including slow-dancing , and dons a brown wig just before she receives a visitor.
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The room also contains numerous life-size mannequins for her work, though only her assistant Marlene Hermann is shown using them. Her first husband Pierre was a great love, who died in a car accident while Petra was pregnant; the second began the same way, but ended in disgust. First act Edit Petra is shown being awoken by Marlene. She begins her day and gets dressed while her assistant attends to her. Petra makes a phone call to her mother, makes demands of Marlene including slow-dancing , and dons a brown wig just before she receives a visitor.
Petra talks to Sidonie Schaake , her cousin, about her male relationships. Meanwhile, Marlene does the work and acts as hostess. Karin, newly returned to Germany after residing in Sydney for five years, is a desirable but shallow year-old woman. Petra, immediately attracted to Karin at this first meeting, suggests Karin become a model.
Karin agrees to return the following day. Second act Edit Petra quickly falls madly in love with Karin. The next day, with Marlene showing clearer signs of frustration, but still typing, Petra, now wearing a larger and dark wig, offers to support Karin while she trains to be a model.
The women soon show their incompatibility. Petra had a happy childhood and came from a home where the good things in life were always stressed. Petra loved mathematics and algebra at school, but Karin could never understand algebra and the point of substituting letters for numbers.
Petra has a daughter, whom she rarely sees, but reassures herself that her daughter is at the best possible boarding school. She says people reject her when they find out about her history, but Petra now admits to a great affection for her, even stronger after having heard her family history. Petra orders Marlene to get a bottle of Sekt. Her father was laid off because of his age. Karin feels she has drifted in her life; her husband in Sydney treated her as a slave and offered no reprieve from her past, but Petra insists this is about to change.
Marlene returns with the bottle of Sekt in a cooler, silently returns to her typing, and the other two women toast each other. Petra promises to make Karin a great model. Marlene, previously hidden by a curtain, stops typing and glares at Petra.
While listening to a record, Petra says life is predestined , people are brutal and hard, and everyone is replaceable. Marlene resumes her typing, but after Karin agrees to move in with Petra, she is ordered to bring more Sekt. While Petra admits to being in love with Karin, Karin herself can only say she likes Petra.
Six months or so pass. Third act Edit Petra, resplendent in a red wig, is getting dressed, while Karin is in bed reading a colour magazine. Petra cancels a flight to Madrid over the telephone, a habit which Karin thinks is pointless, and Petra orders Marlene to find her shoes. Karin thinks Marlene is strange, but Petra reassures her that Marlene loves her. Karin still cannot say she loves Petra.
The previous night, Karin had been out until 6am, and admits to having slept with a man, though she keeps changing her precise story. Petra is jealous and shouts at Marlene. It emerges they have been in contact by letter, and Karin is no longer planning on getting a divorce, and she is rejoining her husband. Petra calls her a "rotten little whore", and Karin responds that being with Petra is less strenuous than working the streets.
She asks Petra to book a flight to Frankfurt, where she is to meet her husband, and asks for DM from Petra, though Petra freely gives her twice that. Marlene drives Karin to the airport; Petra is now too drunk to drive. Petra, lying on the floor and now wearing a blond wig, is drinking heavily while assuming that Karin, her object of love and hate, will phone. Her daughter Gaby Eva Mattes arrives.
Petra tells her little; Gaby admits to being in love with a young man, though so far it is unrequited. She admits to knowing Karin is in Bremen that day. Petra accuses her of being a whore who never worked and lived off her husband. Petra tramples on the china tea service Marlene had brought in; she insists on smashing anything she has bought. She insists she is not crazy about Karin, but loved her.
Her mother, previously unaware of Karin, is shocked at the thought of her daughter being in love with another woman.
Petra rejects Sidonie and hopes not to see her again, but Sidonie stays. Final act Edit Later that same night, Petra lies in bed without a wig, her natural auburn hair on display. She is apologetic to her mother, and realizes she wanted to possess Karin rather than love her. Karin rings and Petra amicably declines seeing her before she leaves for Paris.
Petra instead offers the chance that they will meet again in the future. Petra turns to Marlene after her mother has left, and admits she has to apologize to her for many things. It will be different from now on, Petra promises, adding that she will share her life with Marlene. But Marlene, who has satisfied her personal masochistic desire in submitting to Petra, packs her meager belongings including, notably, a pistol in her small suitcase, and leaves, taking the doll with her.
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