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Lady und Schneider

[Image:Moving Theatre logo]Lady und Schneider
The Lady and the Tailor

A Farce with songs in 2 Acts
By Johann Nestroy
Premiere: 6th February 1849

Funded by

Arts council of England

Austrian Cultural Forum

Count von Hohenstern
Paul, his sons
Lady Bridewell, a beautiful young widow
Lord Atworth, her uncle
Baroness von Kargenhausen
Adele, her daughter
Fuchs, secretary to the Baroness
Miss Kemble, lady-in-waiting to Lady Bridewell
Jean, servant to Paul
Georg, servant to the Count
Restl, an old tailor
Linerl, his daughter
Hyginus Heugeign, a tailor, Linerl's fiance (originally played by Nestroy)
Biegelscheer, apprentice tailors lit. "Thimble", "Scissors")
Ball guests, lackeys, musicians

The action takes place in a provincial town and in the mansion of Lady Bridewell, against the background of the 1848 Revolution.

Act 1. Count Hohenstern warns his elder son Friedrich not to ruin his last chance of a really good match by indulging his taste for affairs. The young man has already damaged his prospects more than once in this way, and the Count threatens to disinherit him in favour of his younger brother Paul if it happens again. Friedrich assures him that he is a reformed character and is too much in love with Lady Bridewell to consider being unfaithful. - However, Baroness von Kargenhausen and her secretary Fuchs (Fox) are plotting to prevent the marriage so that Paul, who is courting her daughter Adele, may benefit.
The old tailor Restl has received a surprising commission: to design and make a fairy costume for a ball. Restl is about to retire and hand the business over to his assistant Heugeign, who is to marry his daughter Linerl. But Heugeign wants to give up tailoring and take up politics, feeling himself destined for greatness. - Lady Bridewell now arrives in the shop with her uncle Atworth to be fitted for the fairy costume. She has deliberately commissioned a relatively unknown tailor to prevent word of the costume getting out in advance of the ball and spoiling the surprise. But Paul's servant Jean happens to see her carriage outside the tailor's shop and immediately alerts his master. While the lady and Atworth are in the next room, Paul bribes Heugeign to make sure her costume is as tasteless as possible. Heugeign takes the money, but his professional pride will not let him carry out the instruction. The dress will certainly be striking, however, and Heugeign decides to attend the ball in person, and take the credit as a means of launching his career.
Adele appears at the ball in a dress originally intended for Lady Bridewell, and feels sure that she will eclipse her rival. Everyone is now agog to see what her ladyship will be wearing. Paul catches sight of her in the vestibule, can barely suppress his laughter, and generously rewards Heugeign for designing it, and persuading the customer to wear it. Atworth is disgusted with the dress and can barely contain his anger. But they both misjudge Friedrich's and the guests' response: the costume is met with delighted applause. Paul is furious, Atworth relieved, the Baroness drives off in a rage and Heugeign is carried into the ballroom on the shoulders of servants and hailed as the creator of the best costume of the evening.

Act 2. Fuchs and Paul hatch a new plot and target Restl's daughter Linerl. They persuade her that, at a time of such political and social upheaval, Heigeign's political aspirations have inevitably got him into serious trouble, and that only she can save him by personally intervening with young Baron Friedrich. - At the same time Friedrich is told that her ladyship, out of jealousy, has been secretly keeping a young woman captive on her estate. He is asked to meet this person in a nocturnal rendezvous. - At the same time Lady Bridewell is warned by Adele and her mother that Friedrich is being unfaithful to her, a fact she can ascertain for herself by spying on his secret assignation with a young woman. - Fuchs then bullies and cajoles Heugeign into costuming the mysterious young woman, and since Linerl is heavily disguised he fails to recognize his own fiancee, though her measurements do seem rather familiar. He is ordered to make her a fairy costume exactly like that worn by her ladyship at the ball, and he decides to alter the existing one.- Meanwhile Atworth has discovered the plot and alerts Lady Bridewell. Through her confidante Miss Kemble, Heigeign is told some of the details, specifically Linerl's involvement and her assignation with Friedrich. When the arranged assignation takes place, it is actually Heugeign masquerading as Friedrich and Lady Bridewell as Linerl, though each thinks he/she is dealing with the real Friedrich and the real Lady Bridewell, and they part thinking that the other is being unfaithful. Matters are resolved when the real Friedrich arrives, though not before a manhunt is instigated for the fellow who dared to impersonate the Baron's son. As Atworth is convinced it must have been Fuchs, Heugeign is spared further explanation. Renouncing a career in politics, he promises his bride and father-in-law that he will take over the tailoring business. Friedrich and Lady Bridewell are married.


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