Zemstatranslation is a witty Comedy by count and a prolific comedy writer Aleksander Fredro, first published in 1838. It's (supposedly) Based on a True Story - Fredro found a manuscript upon moving into his newly aquired castle, in which the story of its previous owners was told.
In a vein of Commedia dell'Arte, it has two young lovebirds - Wacław and Klara - and a host of obstacles to their being together, including Wacław's miser father, Rejent (a court official) Milczek and Klara's guardian Cześnik (a cupbearer) Maciej Raptusiewicz, who have an ongoing feud over the castle in which they both live and the wall that divides it. Matters are stirred by the visit of Podstolina (wife, or, in this case, widow of Podstoli another court title) Hanna whose (financial) assets attract Cześnik's attention, and by Rejent's attempt to mend the dividing wall.
You may have seen the 2002 movie version by Andrzej Wajda, with Roman Polański as Papkin, which for some reason takes place in a ruined castle in the winter.
Tropes that make Zemsta funny:
- Abhorrent Admirer: Podstolina is roughly twice her beloved's age. To be fair, he asked for it Also, Papkin thinks Klara loves him, as he's clearly such a stud. She, trying her best not to giggle, deals by sending the guy on a comical Snipe Hunt.
- Arranged Marriage: Two are planned. Possibly three. None comes to pass.
- Artistic License Biology: in-universe. Klara seems to think crocodiles are venomous (unless she's exaggerating for effect).
- Butt-Monkey: Papkin, who loses what dignity he had. Mostly brought it upon himself.
- Bumbling Sidekick: Papkin plays this role for Cześnik, as long as he's not following his own goals. Dyndalski (actual servant of the Cześnik) to a lesser degree (see: Love Letter and Repeat After Me below)
- Child Marriage Veto / Parental Marriage Veto: Rejent tries to set Wacław off with Podstolina, for no other reason than to spite Cześnik. Who cares the young fool's in love with Klara!
- Commedia dell'Arte: The main characters are:
- the Inamorato - Hot-Blooded Wacław, and the Inamorata with shades of the Colombina - the sensible Klara
- the Captain - Józef Papkin, lusts after Klara, is comically inept and very over the top. (Also, Dreadful Musician)
- The Doctor / Pantalone - Both Rejent and Cześnik combine these, Rejent being a miserly old lawyer who always knows best, Cześnik being a louder and slightly Dirty Old Man (who wants to get married for money).
- La Signora - Podstolina, a lady who knows how to use her assets and (nearly) marries Cześnik for his money - he wants to marry her for hers, which she actually really hasn't got.
- Comically Missing the Point: Dyndalski in the Love Letter dictation scene. Writing and composition is not his strongest suit (or Cześnik's).
- Duel to the Death: Cześnik challenges Rejent, then forgets about it which conveniently gets Rejent out of the way for his son's wedding to Klara.
- Elopement: Wacław asks her to elope, but Klara will marry him legally or not at all
- Feuding Immediate Guardians: Played for Laughs in its comical pettiness, but still.
- Give Me a Sword: Wacław, when brought before Cześnik and convinced he'll need to fight for his life. Instead of a sword, however, he gets married.
- Gold Digger: Cześnik towards Podstolina who actually is dirt poor and Gold Digger herself.
- Love Letter: Forged in an iconic scene.
- Meaningful Name: In spades:
- Cześnik name was derived from "raptus" (hotspur), and his rival's surname - Milczek - could be translated as "silent one" (it also hints on their natures as Red Oni, Blue Oni)
- "Papkin" is derived from "papka" (pulp), which pretty much indicate his status as Miles Gloriosus (and Dirty Coward as well)
- Podstolina's family name suggests clinging onto something, which fits her Gold Digger nature
- Miles Gloriosus: People divide Papkin's stories by four but in actual reality he turns out to be even less cool than people think he is.
- Mistaken for Dying: Papkin thinks he's been poisoned and proceeds to write his last will. Hilarity Ensues.
- New Old Flame: Apparently Waclaw (posing as "prince Radosław") and Podstolina had something going on in the past. He's since cleaned up his act, but she won't believe it. Hence Abhorrent Admirer.
- Repeat After Me: Variation in the Love Letter scene where Cześnik is dictating the letter for Wacław, supposedly from his Love Interest Klara. It's littered with Cześnik Verbal Tic (see below) that the faithful servant decided to take down as well.
- Restrained Revenge: The titular revenge (of Cześnik upon Rejent) is so restrained Rejent ends up as the party happier with the whole thing.
- Small Name, Big Ego: Papkin's defining characteristic - his smugness is inversely proportional to how scared he is.
- This Is My Side: With a real (if crumbly) stone wall!
- Verbal Tic: "Mocium Panie" (which could be translated as "my good sir" with heavy provincial accent) for Cześnik, especially when he's thinking.
- Why Waste a Wedding?: A wedding has been in preparation for most of the play, but it's only decided who finally ties the knot in the last scene.