Flat-mates having a go, fairy kings, the lottery, and Austria: the German Society’s On the Rocks play, “Der Bose Geist Lumpazivagabundas” by Johann Nepomuk Nestroy.




There is good reason to expect that the German Society’s theatre success of last semester will soon be repeated—but that is not to say they’re doing the same sort of production. Instead, they’re preparing an older, more fantastical, happier piece, part fairy-tale and part real-world, where three poor Austrian citizens all win the lottery but each then tries to fulfill their dreams in very different ways.

Like last semester, the play is set in Austria and written by an Austrian, Johann Nepomuk Nestory, so we’re getting to see a side of German-speaking that we might not always be exposed to. In fact, we’re definitely getting to see a play we’re not usually exposed to: it’s never been performed outside of a German-speaking country, either in translation or in German. For that matter, there is no published translation of the play; the German Society is relying on a spectacular unpublished translation done by a professor from the University of Sheffield for subtitles.


Here are some thoughts from Olivia, the play’s director. She played one of the main characters in the German Society’s production from last semester but is now experiencing the other side of production:

It’s a strange experience, mostly because I know I have to do my best all the way down to the day it’s shown, but once the curtain comes up there’s nothing I can do about it. At the same time, it’s really rewarding because everyone is putting time into the production. It’s exciting to see how different it is from last semester’s production, as well. There are many differences: the plot and themes are completely different, all three main characters are male, it’s set in a different time period, etc. But, like last semester, the play is Austrian. We’ve chosen Austrian plays because Sophie is Austrian and I’ve been to Austria, so that’s really where our cultural and linguistic strengths lie. When we took suggestions for the play, loads came in, but this one really caught our eye because it’s something we’re familiar with but something that is also so rare. We don’t just want to repeat the well-known classics. As for the people acting in the play, like last semester, they tend to have a background in German rather than acting. I guess what we really want is for the play to be accessible for both participants and the audience: we want to give people a chance to act, and we want the audience to get a chance to experience something different.


Mary, the female lead from last semester, is again playing a love interest, Peppy:

I don’t want to spoil too much, but my ending in this play is a bit happier compared to the last ending. There’s also some confusion: my character’s love interest, Leim, comes to seduce me when he thinks I’m already married but am not. It’s entertaining.


Abby plays Anastasie, who is married to the person Leim thinks Peppy is married to. Keeping up?

There are loads of love triangles, fairies, a fairy kingdom, and an evil spirit. I don’t want to say too much, though!


Schayan plays Leim, one of the three main male characters:

He’s an interesting character who lives through precarious circumstances. Near the start of the play he’s homeless because he left his master’s workshop after not being lucky in love. Throughout the play, it’s that love-sickness that keeps him going and drives him. The first thing he does after winning the lottery is to go back to Peppy to seduce her and live a happy life. The most important thing about hi is that he’s the most settled, clear-minded and love-driven main character within this play.


Colin plays Knieriem, another one of the main characters:

He’s the sort of person who’d drink the whole time but is quite jealous and quite heartfelt underneath it all. Very much the ‘eat, drink for tomorrow we die’ type. The whole play runs in this difference between the attitudes and outcomes of the lottery winners and why they don’t become expects them to be. Zwirn, for example, the other main character, is really kind and innocent, but so stupid that things go wrong for him. I was in the play last semester, and this is definitely a different experience. It’s more positive, optimistic and enjoyable, and there’s of dancing and singing, and more jokes.


Finally, David plays Zwirn:

Oh, I wouldn’t say Zwirn is entirely as innocent as that, not like someone would immediately think of ‘innocent’ anyway. His entire goal in life is to get with as many women as possible, so he’s as innocent as he can be with that sort of past-time. His entire goal is to have a good time, and he doesn’t take his lottery winnings too seriously. He’s not sensible, acts on impulse. I played a much smaller role last semester, and playing Zwirn is much more enjoyable. I get to do more and see how things develop more closely.


Daniel plays Hobelmann, a respected master carpenter in Vienna:

I enjoy it mostly because I get to shout at David. We’re flatmates, so it lets out all that pent-up frustration, you know?


Lastly, Frederik, one of the members of the German Department, has helped out a lot with the play as well:

Initially I helped them with pronunciation and running lines. Inse Hartung, another member of the department, helps in getting funds and organizing booking rooms, booking the theatre and so forth. This is my only experience with plays, and it’s good fun. My hopes are just that it goes over as well as the last play and that everyone enjoys themselves. I can already see how much everyone has learned and improved, as the play involves beginners as well as native speakers. They’re doing a great job. 


There you have it. Join the German play during the On The Rocks Festival on the 9th or 11th of April for a very unique, exciting experience, and you’ll have flat-mates having a go at each other in the guise of characters, fairy kings, and the lottery. You couldn’t ask for much more!



Emily Lynn Cook


You can buy tickets here