by Tom Stoppard
. It is an adaptation
of Einen Jux will er sich machen
by Johann Nestroy
, a nineteenth-century Viennese
comic playwright. There is another adaptation of this into English, by Thornton Wilder
: but he added a matchmaker
into his, and called his version The Matchmaker
. The matchmaker's name is Dolly Levi
: the Wilder play became Hello Dolly!
Stoppard's version of Nestroy is not a translation but a new creation with the same plot and characters as Einen Jux. Zangler is a high-class grocer, with a niece called Marie, whom he fiercely guards from fortune-hunters. While Zangler is off at a grand grocers' parade, his two downtrodden assistants Weinberl and Christopher decided to go on the razzle, to see the world -- well, Vienna. Meanwhile, a young man called Sonders is trying to elope with Marie.
This all leads to a farce of constant changes of costume, confusions, mistaken orders, intercepted orders, and pretences of engagement. It proceeds at a rattling pace: there are no ideas, no quantum physics, no tragedy; it's all running around, double entendre, and puns. My favourite characters are the sex-mad coachman, who can't keep his mind off buttocks... well he's a coachman..., and the increasingly dishevelled maid who keeps taking him into the kitchen to offer him biscuits.
On the Razzle was first performed on 18 September 1981 at the National Theatre, with Felicity Kendal as Christopher.