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[Image:Moving Theatre logo]Kampl

A Farce with songs in 3 Acts
By Johann Nestroy
Premiere: 29th March 1852

Funded by

Arts council of England

Austrian Cultural Forum

Gabriel Brunner, formerly a government servant
Bernhard Brunner, his brother, a mechanic
Wilhelm, Gabriel’s son
Netti, Bernhard’s daughter
Hippolit Schwamm, Duke of Waschhausen
Sidonia, his wife, previously widowed Baroness von Auenheim
Ludwig Baron von Auenheim, Sidonia’s son from her first marriage
Cecilie, Waschhausen’s sister, unmarried
Pauline, Baroness von Kellburg
Madame Müller, her chambermaid
Baron Felsbach
Herr von Gerbrand
Herr von Zackenburg
Herr von Habmann
Baronin von Hochberg, a widow
Herr von Blankenforst
Herr von Halbing
Herr von Brachfeld
Servants to Waschhausen and Baroness Hochberg
Frau von Siebling
Ida, her daughter
Frau Schulzmann, a widow
Euphrosine, her daughters
Hannerl, her maid
Kampl, a surgeon
Damian, his assistant
Dr Muschl
Pichtl, assistant to Dr Muschl
Zwinger, a landlord
Strunk, a butcher’s son
Malzer, a brewer’s son
Herr Zeppler
An old innkeeper

Fakler, a clerk
Frau Wilker, a poor widow
Coachmen, porters, a notary, ladies and gentlemen, farmers, stable hands

Scene: The action takes place in a village just outside a medium-sized town, then in another, larger town.

Act 1. Kampl is a slovenly and idiosyncratic doctor with a practice just outside the town. An old acquaintance, Baron Felsbach, comes to him for help in a rather important matter. When Felsbach's second daughter was born many years ago, he believed she was the child of an affair he suspected his wife was conducting at the time. Therefore, while his wife was recovering at a spa, he delivered the child to Kampl, and then disappeared. When his wife returned, she was told the child was dead, and the parents separated soon after. Felsbach now reports that his wife has died and sworn on her deathbed that she was always faithful to him, so that Felsbach is now convinced he made a mistake. He has been given papers relating to both his daughters by Dr Muschl, who was at his wife's bedside when she died. One of the documents gives Muschl an influential voice in determining the older daughter's choice of marriage partner.
Kampl is delighted to see Felsbach again but has no idea what happened to the child. He had given the girl and the money Felsbach provided to his wife, who had promptly disappeared with both. Years later Kampl had read in the newspaper of his wife's death. Felsbach and Kampl decide to begin their search in the town named in his wife's obituaries. The information contained in the documents from Muschl suggests to Kampl that the position of Felsbach's older daughter may also be fraught with difficulty. She scarcely knew her father. When her parents separated, her mother resumed her maiden name, and the daughter has now come into a huge inheritance from an uncle on condition she keep that name. Kampl fears she may be vulnerable to the machinations of relations, greedy to get their hands on the money.
In another town, Sidonia, Waschhausen and Cecilie are awaiting the arrival of their ward Pauline. They hope to benefit from her suddenly inherited wealth. They are unhappy that some doctor called Muschl has apparently been given a decisive vote in her choice of husband. But they agree at least to have open discussions about suitable candidates and avoid any secret intrigues. Despite this agreement in public, each is privately busy promoting his or her favoured candidate. - Sidonia is adamant that her son Ludwig must marry the heiress. How unfortunate that he seems to be mixing rather a lot with the lower orders. Nonetheless, she expects him to do his duty. - Cecilie on the other hand is furthering Gerbrand's hopes. - Another suitor is Zackmann, who needs a lucrative marriage to pay off his debts to Habmann, although he is currently rather infatuated with a seamstress called Netti. - Another with his eye on the wealthy heiress is Halbing, but Zackmann manages to put him off by alleging that Pauline's mother took with her to her grave a less than spotless reputation. Kampl, who has gained entry to the company by pretending to be Dr Muschl, overhears this conversation between Halbing and Zackmann. - The various suitors and their respective champions are now introduced to "Dr Muschl" who, having attended Pauline's mother's deathbed, is presumed to be acquainted with her dying wishes. Ludwig privately asks him to help him circumvent his mother's wishes so that he can marry Netti instead. Hearing the name Netti, Kampl instinctively senses that he is on the trail of the long lost younger daughter. Kampl is then approached in turn by Waschhausen and Cecilie and listens sympathetically to their proposals for a suitable match.
Meanwhile, in the poorer part of town, Gabriel Brunner can't pay his rent. As a former government servant he is entitled to a pension, and half the rent is paid by his brother, but nonetheless he is always in financial difficulty. For that reason he is constantly urging his niece Netti to marry a rich man. Zwinger arrives to collect the rent, and Gabriel testily refers him to his brother Bernhard. Troubled by the family row that might now ensue, Gabriel hurries off in search of someone who might be willing to lend him 100 guilders. - During Gabriel's absence Zackenburg arrives and tries to win Netti's affections, but she rejects him. At that moment Gabriel's son Wilhelm comes home, delighted at having a new job and 100 guilders in his pocket. He puts the money in his father's desk and departs. When Netti shuns Zackenburg again by fleeing to the next room, Zackenburg, who is convinced that Wilhelm's sudden windfall has emboldened Netti to reject his suit, decides to steal the money. Kampl arrives and sees him escaping through the window. Kampl, on the trail of the mysterious Netti, continues to pretend to be Dr Muschl. He offers Bernhard Brunner 100 guilders for information about his daughter, but Bernhard responds indignantly to the suggestion that he can be bought. When he leaves the room in a fury, Kampl puts the money on the desk, as he is more and more convinced that Netti is the girl he is looking for. Wilhelm suddenly re-enters, and Kampl snatches up the money and puts it in his wallet. Discovering the theft of his earnings, Wilhelm seizes Kampl as the suspected thief, and his cries summon Bernhard and Gabriel. To complicate matters, Ludwig arrives. The Brunner brothers have thought all along he is a poor lawyer's clerk, but Kampl addresses him as Baron von Auenheim. Ludwig is forced to confess who he really is. An angry Bernhard tends to the swooning Netti, and Kampl departs after giving a relieved Gabriel the 100 guilders he needs for the rent.

Act 2. At the cemetery Cecilie and Pauline are praying at the grave of Pauline's mother. In the distance they see Gerbrand, weeping copiously over his mother's grave. The entire Waschhausen family showers Pauline with compliments but Kampl warns her openly to beware of their flattery. Sidonia and Waschhausen are furious at his effrontery but Kampl's words have made Pauline thoughtful.
Bernhard is still angry with Ludwig for pretending to be poor, though Wilhelm assures him that his friend's intentions are entirely honourable and that he wishes to marry Netti against the wishes of his family. Bernhard sets a condition: that Ludwig's mother must ask him for Netti's hand on her son's behalf. Until then he insists Netti put on a cheerful face and go to Frau Schulzmann's ball that evening. Netti is inconsolable. Kampl (still pretending to be Muschl) now asks Gabriel about her, and learns that Bernhard was never married. It seems he was once in love with a girl who went off to marry a doctor called Kampl. In any case, Netti is not really his daughter.
Pauline appears at the ball in a very simple dress. As no one recognises her, no one asks her to dance and she is left sitting on her own. Netti goes to join her and the two women strike up a friendship, with Netti helpfully offering Pauline work as a seamstress. Pauline realises that it is her wealth, not her person, that has attracted such attention and compliments, but this bitter recognition is alleviated by the kindness of her new found friends Netti and Wilhelm.

Act 3. Wilhelm tells Pauline he is in love with her. An embarrassed Pauline discovers to her alarm that Wilhelm is a friend of Ludwig, and that Ludwig, who is supposed to be one of her suitors, is also courting Netti. She is immediately concerned for poor Netti.
Gabriel tells Kampl that Bernhard intends to reveal the truth about Netti's origins when she is married. Kampl now firmly believes that Netti is Felsbach's daughter, but is unsure whether he can resolve the situation on his own. He decides it is nearly time for Felsbach to appear in person.
At a ball given by Baroness Hochburg Pauline appears again in her simple dress. This time she is recognised and overwhelmed with compliments. Gerbrand is the first to ask her to dance, but her behaviour with him is such that he concludes she is vain and foolish. Thinking she will be an easy catch, he tells her that her image has now come between him and the memory of his mother, to the extent that he is willing to become her slave. Pauline, whose behaviour was intended to test him, is put off by his manner. But Gerbrand, noticing this, claims in turn to have been play-acting to test her, and Pauline begins to believe she has done him an injustice.
Meanwhile Sidonia has been impatiently awaiting Ludwig's arrival, and at last he appears. She is delighted when Kampl engineers a tete-a-tete between Ludwig and Pauline. Ludwig tells Pauline of his mother's plans for him and his own love for Netti. Pauline is delighted by his frankness and promises to inform Sidonia about the result of their conversation. - Zackenburg is the next to be struck from the list of Pauline's suitors when Kampl declares that he heard him slander the memory of her mother, and demands furthermore that he return the 100 guilders stolen from the Brunners. - Gerbrand sees his prospects significantly enhanced, and approaches Pauline again. But Kampl scuppers his chances by confronting the supposed orphan with his mother, very much alive and disgusted by her son's attempts to win sympathy by killing her off. - Pauline now sees in Kampl a guardian angel sent by her mother to watch over her. With the other suitors out of contention, Kampl and Felsbach decide to put Wilhelm to the test, using Waschhausen as unwitting bait. Waschhausen summons Gabriel and Wilhelm for a discussion. He tells them he has been informed that Baroness von Kellburg has heard of Wilhelm's merits and admired him from afar, and now wishes to marry him. Without hesitating for a second, Wilhelm declines, explaining he is in love with someone else. Waschhausen is astonished at this lowly workman's refusal of a Baroness, while Gabriel, who had dreamed momentarily of all his financial problems vanishing in a trice, is totally devastated. In contrast, the listening Felsbach and Pauline are delighted.
Netti and Bernhard are now waiting for the miracle promised by Kampl. They are amazed to see Sidonia approach them escorted by Kampl. Sidonia cannot contemplate her son marrying so far beneath him, and Bernhard finds her manner towards him unbearably condescending, so that the two nearly come to blows. At last Felsbach arrives to save the day, and presents a document by which he will adopt Netti and make over half his property to her. Sidonia miraculously changes her manner toward Bernhard and asks his permission for her son to marry his daughter. The marriage contract is duly signed. Only then does Bernhard explain that Netti is not his daughter at all, but Kampl's, having been brought to him by Kampl's wife. Just to confuse poor Netti even more, Kampl explains that she is not his daughter at all, but Felsbach's. Meanwhile Wilhelm proposes to Pauline and is accepted. Once again, only after the marriage contract has been signed does Wilhelm discover his bride's true identity. She is of course Netti's elder sister. Much happiness all round.


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