ewige Juden und Keiner
A Burlesque in 2 Acts
Act 1. Among the guests at a country inn the moneylender Holper recognizes Kranz, whom he had long believed dead. Kranz was supposed to have shot himself in America after borrowing a large sum of money from Holper, and the money had never been repaid. Holper goes off to fetch the constables. - Kranz, who is accompanied by his nephew Wilhelm, is in conversation with another guest, Wandling, and recognizes him as the man whose life he had once saved in Boston. The life-saver had disappeared before Wandling had a chance to thank him, and Kranz admits that he frequently has to make quick getaways and even faked his own death in America to avoid paying landlord's bills. Wilhelm is adamant that he will one day pay off his uncle's debts. The impetuous young man has already been challenged to a duel twice by a certain Chevalier Distelbrand. - Wilhelm is in love with a rich young lady, though his poor financial prospects give him little hope of winning her. But when Wandling promises to pay Kranz 3,000 guilders a year in gratitude for saving his life, Wilhelm's hopes are raised. - The deeds for the annuity are about to be drawn up and Wandling asks Kranz his name. When he hears it, Wandling turns pale, tears up the deeds, announces that he cannot pay Kranz a penny, and promptly leaves the inn. Alas, the astonished, Kranz has already celebrated his good fortune by donating a sum to a theatre company and treating the actors to champagne. Confronted by the waitress Babette, he is yet again in the embarrassing position of being unable to pay his bills. However, it turns out the actors are short of a leading man and an older character actor, so the theatre manager Mummler offers the roles to Kranz and Wilhelm. In the forthcoming performance Kranz will play the part of the Wandering Jew. - Pauline, the object of Wilhelm's affections, now arrives at the inn and Wilhelm declares his love, to which the lady responds with an amiable reserve. Wilhelm, aware that the lady would not suffer such amorous attentions from a poor and humble actor, must delay getting into costume for his performance until Pauline and her father Auerhahn have left the inn. But Mummler, who is keen to have the Auerhahns in his audience in the hope of winning their patronage, has deliberately crippled a wheel of their carriage. They delay their departure and decide to watch the performance. - Meanwhile Wandling has returned. He converses with people as they arrive and seems to check their identities against some notes in his possession. - During the performance the Wandering Jew realizes that Holper and three constables in the audience are watching him with particular attention. When Wilhelm, about to make his first appearance, spies Pauline in the audience, the two men make a dash for it, still in costume. Lightning strikes a tree as they run away, illuminating the fleeing figure of the Wandering Jew.
Act 2. Holper and
his fiancee Babette, who is now employed at the Auerhahn's mansion,
go to see Pauline. Holper wants to invest 40,000
with Wandling, who is a guest of Auerhahn. He tells Pauline that
he has received
a mysterious letter, worded as follows: "You will receive news of
great importance on the first of next month in (such and such a) town." A
letter with exactly the same wording has been sent to Auerhahn. That
day Auerhahn is expecting two arrivals: a new accountant, and the husband
he intends for Pauline. The accountant is none other than Wilhelm,
who has been recommended for the post by a friend of his uncle. However,
his hopes of Pauline are dashed when Wandling tells him of the impending
arrival of a bridegroom. The young man begs Wandling to use his influence
and further his claims as an alternative husband, and Wandling agrees
on condition that, if Wilhelm comes into money by marrying Pauline,
mustn't give any to his uncle! But it seems Kranz now has high hopes
of a mysterious letter he has received, with the same wording as the
others. - The bridegroom arrives, and turns out to be Chevalier Distelbrand.
Wilhelm intercepts him and challenges him to yet another duel. Two
pistols are available but only one is loaded. Chance will determine
have the single shot. Wilhelm draws the loaded pistol but offers to
refrain from shooting, on one condition: that Distelbrand will agree
for three days, so that Wilhelm can impersonate him. - Pauline now
meets her intended, and is surprised to discover that he is the same
man who paid her so much attention at the inn. Why did he not reveal
himself then as the bridegroom her father had chosen?
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