You are here:
Synopsis index
Zu ebener Erde und erster Stock

[Image:Moving Theatre logo]Zu ebener Erde und erster Stock
oder Die Launen des Glücks

Upstairs Downstairs
or The Wheel of Fortune

Adapted from Bonaventure, a vaudeville play by Charles-Desiré Dupeuty and Frédéric de Courcy. Adapted into English by Geoffery Skelton
Farce with songs in three acts
by Johann Nestroy

Funded by

Arts council of England

Austrian Cultural Forum

Herr von Goldfuchs, speculator and millionaire
Emilie, his daughter
Johann, servant
Fanny, lady’s maid
Anton, Goldfuchs’ servants
Schlucker, a poor man
Ma Sepherl, his wife
Adolph, aged 21, a Notary’s clerk
Christoph, aged 13,
Nettel, aged 11,
Seppel, aged 8,
Resi, aged 5, his children
Damian Stutzel, Ma Sepherl’s brother, a second hand goods dealer who has fallen on hard times, and is now his brother-in-law’s assistant. Salerl, a distant relation of Schlucker
Georg Michael Zins, a landlord
Monsieur Bonbon
Wilm, secretary to a lord
Plutzerkern, old man
Zech, waiter
Meridon, head chef,
Aspik, deputy chef at Goldfuchs’
François, kitchen boy
Wermuth, accountant for a wholesale business
Herr von Steinfels,
Frau (von Steinfels),
Herr von Wachsweich,
Frau (von Wachsweich), friends of the Goldfuchs’
Court official
Trumpf, second hand goods dealers
1st and 2nd guards
Ladies and gentlemen
Kitchen staff

Act 1. We can see both Goldfuchs’ elegant flat and underneath the home of the impoverished Family Schlucker. Whilst Goldfuchs’ servants can expect generous tips (and Johann supplements this with petty thieving from Goldfuchs) , Schlucker’s wife Sepherl doesn’t know where to find the means to feed her children. [Song: Damian. Song: Johann]. Her brother, Damian, notices with jealousy that Bonbon is making advances to his beloved Salerl, but she manages to reassure him there is nothing between them. Schlucker has discovered that his son Adolph is having a secret affair with Goldfuchs’ daughter Emily. To avoid making any trouble with Goldfuchs, Schlucker tries to put an end to the affair. Zins meanwhile has asked Goldfuchs for Emily’s hand, earning himself only mockery in the process. As a last resort, he asks Emily herself, but she refuses him and confesses her love for Adolph. Incensed that the son of a down at heel type should be preferred above him, Zins departs. Schlucker catches Adolph reading a loveletter from Emily, and writes an impertinent letter back, whilst Damian writes a fictitious letter from Salerl to Bonbon, requesting a meeting. The letters are passed between the apartments by means of strings hung down from the upper storey, and these become mixed up such that Emily receives Damian’s letter whilst Bonbon receives Adolph’s. While upstairs everyone tucks into a feast, downstairs they sit down to bread and water. To Emily’s horror, her father announces her engagement to Bonbon. [Chorus]


Act 2. Zins is prepared to let the Schlucker family off their rent if Damian and Schlucker ensure that Adolph stays away from Emily so that Zins can marry her himself. To help them out, Zins arranges a new job for Adolph in a far away town. The secretary to a lord, Wilm, inquires after a robe that he had sold to Damian – there is £100 in the robe, which is now found – and for their reward Damian and Schlucker receive 300 Gulden. [Chorus]. Goldfuchs receives the news that his son will be thrown into debtors’ prison in Hamburg if Goldfuchs doesn’t hand over 100 000 Gulden [Song: Salerl]. Meanwhile Emily decides to flee to escape her marriage to Bonbon, and upset by Johann’s attitude to money her servant Fanny decides to leave him and go with Emily. [Song: Johann]. After a meal at the inn to celebrate the money, Schlucker tells Adolph that he is to be sent away, that Zins is to marry Emily and that, on top of all that, he is not their real son, but adopted. Adolph is furious and decides to go off on his own – Emily uses the cover of a ball at the Goldfuchs to meet up with Adolph, and they decide to run away together the following day. Grob and Trumpf arrive in the middle of the night with the news that Salerl has won 800 Gulden in the lottery – in the same moment, Goldfuchs hears that he has lost his fortune through speculating and in shock, passes out in the arms of his servants. [Chorus]

Act 3. Bonbon, who also lost his wealth through the bad investment, is under house arrest in the upstairs apartment because he now cannot pay his debts. A court official arrives downstairs to announce that Adolph’s real father, having made his fortune in India, has named Adolph as his sole heir and has ordered a sum of 30 000 ducats be paid out to him immediately. The family is overwhelmed by this stroke of luck and Adolph is so happy that he forgives Schlucker and Damian for the way they’ve behaved towards him. Emily has decided not to run away with Adolph, to spare her father further heartache. Damian tries to win Fanny’s heart, while Johann casts his eye on Salerl [Quartet: Salerl, Johann, Fanny, Damian]. Zins offers to rent the apartment upstairs to Adolph: looking at the adoption papers, he realises that he is Adolph’s uncle, and decides therefore to renounce his intention of making Emily his wife. Johann the servant is discovered for the thief and liar he really is and arrested, whilst Bonbon is set free because his brother has paid off his debts. Zins reveals to Goldfuchs that his furniture is mortgaged and the apartment is already being rented elsewhere, but offers him the possibility of sleeping in the apartment downstairs for a few days. Sadly Goldfuchs and Emily take their leave and go down via the backstairs. As they are sadly looking around at their new quarters, Adolph comes to the door and asks for Emily’s hand in marriage – and Goldfuchs is at last willing to give his consent. [Chorus]


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