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Die Anverwandten

[Image:Moving Theatre logo]Die Anverwandten
The Relations

A Farce with songs in 5 Acts
By Johann Nestroy
Premiere: 25th May 1848

Funded by

Arts council of England

Austrian Cultural Forum

Herr Stachelbaum, an elderly millionaire
Victor, his grandson
Marie, his ward
Edelschein, a schemer (originally played by Nestroy)
Betty, his daughters
Lampl, Edelschein's valet
Frau von Schmollinger, Edelschein's sister-in-law
Herr von Kammberg, her cousin
Herr von Fakler, Herr von Gluth, Herr von Nebling
Wolkner, an adventurer
Schwimmel, his companion
Schriftmann, an agent
Rottner, an apprentice to Edelschein
Frau Blum, a landlady
Franz, a waiter, Salerl, a maid
Frau Platzerin, a nurse
Dr Funk
Christian, servants to Frau Schmollinger
A notary
A maid to Edelschein

The action takes place partly in town, and partly on Stachelbaum's estate. There is a week between Acts 1 and 2, and between Acts 2 and 3, a year between Acts 3 and 4, and a month between Acts 4 and 5

Act 1. Stachelbaum is ill, and knows that all his wealth cannot keep death at bay for long. In his mind's eye he can already see his relatives quarrelling over his will, for he knows that "The blooms that grow most profusely on the graves of the rich are the flowers of litigation". Against his will, a quack is sent for, and Stachelbaum, with some irritation, recognises the doctor as his own cousin Edelschein, whom he dislikes. Edelschein tries disingenuously to convince his rich relative that he is not interested in his money. On the contrary, he has come to plead on behalf of his nephew Victor, the old man's grandson, whom Edelschein took in after he was turned out of his grandfather's house.
Meanwhile Victor tells Edelschein's servant Lampl why he has asked his uncle for help: Stachelbaum had arranged a marriage for him, but Victor refused, having already fallen in love with his grandfather's ward Marie, who has also been nursing the old man. As punishment for his disobedience, Stachelbaum promptly disinherited him. The reason Victor went to Edelschein for help is that he knew his grandfather detested him more than any other of his relations.
Edelschein presents himself to Victor as a loving father surrounded by his adoring daughters. He pretends to have to go to town with his daughters on urgent business. In fact he is hoping that, having now met Euphrosine and Betty, Victor will be prompted by their departure into recognising the depth of his feelings for them. Edelschein persuades Victor to enter a competition for inventors designed to find better ways of manufacturing paper. Rottner warns Victor about Edelschein's devious character, but the valet Lampl implores him not to speak ill of his beloved master. Victor is unconcerned by Rottner's warning and convinced he will get on well with Edelschein.
Against Stachlbaum's strict instructions, Edelschein is admitted to see the invalid, who is asleep. Edelschein hopes to get Stachlbaum in his delirious state to sign documents in his favour. Marie enters, worried by the intruder, and Edelschein, seeing his plans foiled, speaks sharply to her, so that Stachlbaum wakes. While Marie kneels at the old man's bedside in relief, Edelschein secretly curses the invalid's unexpected recovery.

Act 2. Frau von Schmollinger recommends her cousin Kammberg to Edelschein as a bridegroom for one of his daughters. Edelschein replies that he already has Victor lined up as a son-in-law. Betty is convinced that Victor has eyes only for her, which evokes the scorn of her elder sister.
A letter from Stachlbaum announcing his imminent arrival puts Edelschein in a spin. Yet Stachlbaum's manner is apologetic, and he humbly asks forgiveness for his earlier unfriendliness. Edelschein now does his best to make a favourable impression on the old man, and readily agrees when Stachelbaum demands that Victor be turned out of his house. The old man also asks that Marie be treated with kindness, explaining that she is not his heir, merely his nurse. Euphrosine and Betty tenderly promise to treat her as if she were their own sister.
Wolkner, a parasitical adventurer, has come to Victor for money. Since Victor has lost his fortune, he is prepared only to pay the other man's hotel bill. Disappointed, Wolkner sends his servant Schwimmel to ask the gullible Lampl for money for thes journey. Although Lampl cannot afford it, he gives him 10 guilders. As "interest" on the payment he asks only that Wolkner should cease to speak ill of Edelschein.
When the Edelscheins return from town, Victor is puzzled by the sisters' sudden coldness towards him. When Edelschein ignores him completely, he demands an explanation. Put on the spot, Edelschein refers to Victor's "deviations from the path of virtue", citing them as an excuse for now turning him out of the house. In fury, Victor leaves, prophesying to Lampl that even he will one day recognise his master's true nature.


Act 3. Stachlbaum secretly overhears a conversation between Victor, Marie and Rottner. Victor plans to emigrate to America, make his fortune and return to claim Marie as his wife. To avoid Stachlbaum discovering their plans, their letters will be conveyed via Lampl. Rottner will accompany Victor to America.
In the Edelschein household they are banking on a marriage between Kammberg and one of the sisters. Lampl asks Euphrosine to intercede on his behalf, since his master is still angry with him for carrying Victor's bag. Although Euphrosine is convinced that Kammberg has chosen her, and her father continuously sings her praises in his presence, Kammberg is more interested in Betty. When he asks Euphrosine to put in a good word for him with her sister, she flies into a rage. Betty rejects Kammberg out of hand. Undeterred, Kammberg begins negotiating the dowry with Edelschein. To get her own back on Kammberg, Euphrosine tries to stir up Lampl to violence against him by telling him she heard Kammberg call her father a miser. But Lampl is afraid of damaging the wedding prospects. But when Kammberg behaves with appalling condescension to Lampl and goes on to make disparaging comments about Edelschein, things get violent after all. Stachlbaum arrives and is again treated with exaggerated affection, as is Marie. When Stachlbaum asks Edelschein to put him up for a year, the latter is only too delighted. Asked about the projected wedding of Betty and Kammberg, Edelschein admits that Kammberg's expectations of the dowry may be a stumbling block. Kammberg, who has been injured in the tussle with Lampl, pretends to have fallen against a fence. Lampl is delighted when Euphrosine, thinking he has fought on her behalf, gives him a kiss.

Act 4. One year later, Edelschein is convinced that he has Stachlbaum exactly where he wants him. Furthermore, he has fallen in love with Marie and won't be deterred from regarding her as his future wife. He threatens to cause terrible problems for Victor if Marie refuses to marry him. Under Edelschein's influence, Stachlbaum has apparently turned against Marie. Nevertheless, she refuses to contemplate marriage with Edelschein. – [Song, Edelschein: "For serious times like these, there are some pretty laughable people"]
Edelschein observes Lampl secretly giving Marie a letter from Victor, and hears Marie tell Lampl about Edelschein's advances and threats against Victor. Lampl is appalled. Edelschein promptly dismisses Lampl in the presence of Stachlbaum, depicting himself as the victim of treachery by his previously loyal servant. Edelschein declares emotionally that, despite this disappointment, he will still try to believe the best of people. Lampl departs without even attempting to justify himself

Act 5. Victor has returned from America broke. He learns from Schriftmann that Stachlbaum has decided to make over his property to Edelschein during his own lifetime. The documents are to be signed that very day. But first, Schriftmann must gives Edelschein a Diploma in recognition of his invention of a papermill machine. It was of course Victor's invention, but with affected modesty Edelschein announces that he has already invested the 200 ducats prize money.
Victor gets the better of his fears and decides to go and see Stachlbaum. But he is intercepted by Edelschein, anxious to spare the old man any unnecessary excitement. Stachlbaum, however, is prepared to listen to his nephew. Victor swears that despite his misfortunes he will never renounce Marie. Seemingly unmoved by this, Stachlbaum asks Edelschein to speak for him. Edelschein orders Victor out of the house and forbids any further contact with his grandfather. Stachlbaum appears to agree, but is prepared to pay back whoever lent Victor the money to return from America. He appears not to hear Victor's reply, that he would not need such gifts if he received the prize money that was due to him.
Stachlbaum hands Edelschein the document transferring the property and asks him to check it for errors. Edelschein retires to the next room, emphasizing that he is only interested in Stachlbaum's health, not his money.
While Edelschein is out of the room, Lampl and Rottner reproach Stachlbaum for his unrelenting enmity to Victor. Marie also tries to plead for him, but Stachlbaum seems to be entirely on Edelschein's side. Edelschein returns, declares himself entirely satisfied with the document, but is irritated by the presence of Victor, Rottner and Lampl. Stachlbaum suggests he just ignore them. Edelschein now watches with growing excitement as Stachlbaum prepares to enter Edelschein's name on the document. Stachlbaum writes the name, but when the others look at the document they see he has written "My grandson Victor". At that moment the invalid jumps out of bed and gives Edelschein a mighty whack with his stick, leaving him stunned on the floor. Stachlbaum embraces Victor and explains that he conceived his plan of revenge a year ago when Edelschein dared to sully Marie with his disgusting advances. He has undergone these humiliations for a year without ever seeing the slightest sign of remorse from Edelschein. He now admits to his grandson that he was just as much to blame for their quarrel, especially as the bride he wanted him to marry is none other than Marie. So naturally he has no objection to their wedding. Edelschein pretends to be deeply hurt, but magnanimous in forgiving the deception. Lampl is so touched by his former master's reaction that he whispers a promise that he will try ensure that Stachlbaum's will does not leave Edelschein entirely empty-handed.


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