A Farce with songs in 2 Acts
The action takes place in Krähwinkel.
Act 1. It is 1848, and Revolution
is brewing in Krähwinkel, as it is in many parts of Europe. Some
citizens are openly challenging the authorities, as represented by the
Mayor, Klaus and Rummelpfuff. Klaus is alarmed by the political speechifying
in the tavern. Nachtwachter ("Nightwatchman") in particular
deliberately provokes Klaus and refuses to be cowed by threats. - Just
as Klaus doesn't have his finger on the political pulse, he has also
failed to notice the growing attachment between his daughter Cecilie
and Siegmund. Instead he is convinced that Siegmund is vying with Willibald
for Nachtwachter's daughter Walpurga.
Act 2. The theatre's costume store has come up trumps again. Ultra has disguised himself as a Russian prince, with Willibald as his interpreter and Nachtwachter as his bodyguard. The Mayor receives them enthusiastically, the more so when Willibald explains that the Tsar has heard about the offending document and demands it be given to his representatives to ensure that it cannot be implemented. - Meanwhile Klaus and Siegmund meet in the street. Still convinced that it is Walpurga Siegmund is after, Klaus persuades him to elope with his beloved, thus (Klaus hopes) breaking the spirit of her father, the rebellious Nachtwachter. He even offers to help Siegmund by collecting the young woman from a pre-arranged rendezvous and taking her to the sanctuary of Frau von Frankenfrey's home. - In the meantime Commander Rummelpfuff has quashed a rebellion. The Mayor makes a conciliatory speech to the townsfolk lamenting "misunderstandings" between himself and the citizens and pleading for a return to order, harmony and peace. But Ultra arrives, this time disguised as a "Delegate from the European Commission for Freedom and Equality". To cheers from the crowd, he announces a constitution guaranteeing freedom of the press and equal respect for all classes. The Mayor collapses in a faint.
Act 3. A "salon" has gathered at Frau von Frankenfrey's home to discuss the new developments. They are amazed when Ultra enters. Thanks to the new freedoms he can now move about freely. But the Mayor also arrives and confidently announces that the Revolution will be crushed that very day. He also informs Frau von Frankenfrey that he will marry her tomorrow, and when she appears reluctant the Mayor hints that her refusal would entail the loss of her husband's property, upon which the monastery has a claim. To his surprise Ultra intervenes and hands the lady a copy of her husband's will, explaining that he received it from the Prior in gratitude for helping him escape from the rioters. The Mayor leaves in a rage to begin the suppression of the rebellion. It occurs to Ultra that any self-respecting revolution needs some rioting students, and Frau von Frankenfrey has an idea. She asks Ultra to find some way of ensuring that the suppression of the uprising doesn't begin until the evening. - Sure enough Ultra revisits the Mayor in disguise, this time as Prince Metternich, a personage whose orders a humble town mayor could hardly disobey. The counter-revolution is postponed until after dark. - Meanwhile Nachtwachter and Willibald are busy building barricades. In the process Nachtwachter decides that this hated bourgeois is actually a thoroughly good fellow, and even agrees to Willibald marrying his daughter. - At the pre-arranged spot Klaus fetches the veiled young woman he believes to be Walpurga, and delivers her safely to Frau von Frankenfrey. - The population of Krähwinkel are now gathered at the barricades, and are confronted by gendarmes headed by an angry Mayor and Klaus. The stand-off is broken when a small but fierce-looking army of students mounts the barricade and boldly challenges the gendarmes to attack. (Frau von Frankenfrey and her delicate female friends have raided the costume store again to telling effect.) A despondent Mayor withdraws his troops, the "leader of the students" offers Ultra her hand in marriage, and a horrified Klaus discovers that he has given his own daughter to Siegmund. He resigns himself to their wedding, but swears he won't return to Krähwinkel until their first child has been baptised.
The Plays of Johann Nestroy. A directory of synopses prepared by Julian Forsyth & Zoe Svenson.
Funded by the Austrian Cultural Forum and Arts Council England. © Moving Theatre 2004