In a Year with 13 Moons

By Roz Friedman

The team of director Robert Woodruff and actor Bill Camp come to the Yale Rep every so often to present avant garde works which challenge the whole structure of theater. Their latest project, “In a Year with 13 Moons,” is their adaptation of a film and screenplay by Rainer Werner Fassbinder, a German writer who, after making a name for himself, died at the age of 37 from a heart attack. 


There is nothing traditional in this two hour without intermission melodramatic production that breaks down all walls. Nudity, sexual abuse, prostitution and cruelty run rampant. The busy stage set (David Zinn) is fitted with, among other things, television screens running all the time, a large bed, a huge glass box framed by neon lighting (Jennifer Tipton) and a massive garage door. 


We meet the main character, Erwin, who is married to Irene, the lovely Jacqueline Kim, and the father of a daughter, Marie-Ann (Mariko Nakasone), after he has returned from a trip to Casablanca. There, we understand, he fell in love with Anton Saitz, the handsome Christopher Innvar, and has had a sex change so that he can carry on a relationship with this successful, charismatic man. He is now Elvira, replete with long wavy hair and boobs. Back home, wherever that is, his boyfriend, Christoph, the frightening Babs Olusanmorkun, beats Elvira up, after telling her she is fat and ugly, and leaves.  Now we follow Elvira, as she lives the last five days of her life; she is accompanied by her/his friend, Red Zora, a young petite prostitute who keeps saving her life, played by Monica Santana.


It seems she/he met her wife at her first job in a slaughterhouse, and revisits that blood-soaked place which boasts inventively stunning staging: slim men coated in shiny red walk past dragging people with pigs’ heads. He goes on to find Anton Saitz, who does not recognize him/her and is not particularly happy to see either of them. Anton is involved in doing a number from a Jerry Lewis /Dean Martin movie. Finally Elvira cuts her hair, dresses like a man, and asks his wife to take him back, but she refuses: It is too late.  As Elvira takes her own life, all the people who have touched him along the way circle his bed.


Camp certainly runs the gamut of emotions from A to Z. As Elvira, he delivers self-indulgent long speeches much of which are difficult to understand; the music, punctuated by loud gongs and drumming, is interesting but obscures some of the dialogue. It is hard to care about the mixed-up Erwin/Elvira  when she does not care about herself.


Watch out with the years containing 13 Moons! At Yale Rep through MAY 18.


Thinking it over after the fact, all I can add it that "13 Moons" was really repugnant.

This review first aired on WMNR 88.1 FM FINE ARTS PUBLIC RADIO


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