The play is preceded by a prologue pronounced by one of the actors before the curtain, which is a laudable word for farce as a genre. In the prologue it is reported that the play offered to the audience is a farce, more like a puppet comedy or a comedy of masks: it is uncomplicated and presupposes a child’s vision of the world, – in this mood the author asks for audience tuning. As it should be in the comedy of masks, the time and place of action are conditional.
Two friends, Leander and Crispin, come to an unfamiliar town. Their situation is rather difficult, since they are completely without money. Crispin, more dodgy and cheerful than Leander, is determined to get money and even get rich, for which he offers a daring plan. Leander should impersonate a rich and noble person who came to the city on an important state matter, and the rest under the guise of his servant will take care of Crispin. Leandro does not really like this idea: he is frightened by the possible consequences of such fraud, but he surrenders before the friend’s insistence, realizing that their situation is desperate.
Friends knock on the door of the hotel and ask for the best rooms and a plentiful dinner. The master first of all treats them distrustfully, but Crispin’s arrogance and his assertiveness convince the innkeeper that the important gentlemen are before him. Soon, the Harlequin, the local poet, and his Friend Captain come. Not once they ate in debt at this
In the meantime, Dona Syrena, a noble but impoverished widow, is about to arrange a ball. The main guest on it should be Polychinel, the richest man in the city. He has a daughter – a bride for marriage, whose hand is hunted by many young people, attracted primarily by the wealth of her father. Counting on the help and patronage of Doña Sirena, each of these seekers of happiness promised her a considerable sum as soon as she married the daughter of Polishinel. Therefore, the upcoming evening is very important for Dona Sirena. But her faithful servant Columbine brings sad news: no one wants to believe her mistress in debt – neither the tailor, nor the cook, nor the musicians, which means that the ball will have to be canceled. Dona Sirena in despair, but then Crispin appears with the message that his master will take care of all the spending on the arrangement of the ball, If Dona Syrena helps him achieve the favor of the daughter of Polishinel. Following Crispin comes Leander, whose courtesy makes the most favorable impression on Sirene.
Gradually, guests gather, excited by rumors about the arrival of an important person in the city. And only Polishinel this news leaves absolutely indifferent – he is concerned only that his beloved daughter reads too many novels and refuses to marry some rich merchant. The point of view of the daughter is completely shared by her mother, Mrs. Polishinel.
At some point, the ball, Crispin and Polichinel, are alone, and it turns out from their conversation that they have long known the galleys that Mr. Polishinel has a very dark past: there are a lot of robberies and deceptions on his conscience, and maybe even murders. Crispin warns Polyhinel that he must protect his daughter from the sweet speeches of his master Leander. At the same time, he pursues his goal, expecting that a spoiled girl, not accustomed to being crossed, faced with an obstacle, immediately fell in love with Leander. That’s exactly what happens. But Crispin’s plan: to get as much money out of Polishinel as possible – encounters an unexpected obstacle: playing the lover, Leandre truly falls in love with Sylvia, the daughter of Polichinel, and, unwilling to appear to the girl as an unworthy impostor, is determined to leave the city immediately. But Crispin’s persuasions and especially a reminder of how hard they managed to escape from Bologna, where they deceived many people, change the plans of Leander. Besides, it suddenly turns out that Sylvia fell in love with Leandra without memory.
Crispin, without losing time, hires a few people who, at night, when Leandre’s meeting with Sylvia, attack him, supposedly wanting to kill the young man. The girl is terribly frightened, and the clever Crispin tells everyone that people were hired by Polishinel to get rid of Leander. Soon the whole city, including Mrs. Polishinel, is against Sylvia’s father. The girl, having decided at all costs to connect her fate with her beloved one, runs away from home and comes to the Don Sirena, it seems that everything contributes to the happiness of lovers. But Leandro does not like deception, and he now and then tries to tell Sylvia the whole truth about himself. From this he is persistently kept by Crispin and Dona Sirena, who is afraid to remain without the promised money. Leander persists, but then comes Sylvia, who can no longer languish in the unknown about his health.
At this moment comes the Doctor who arrived from Bologna – he brought with him a lot of documents confirming that in this city Leander and Crispin have made debts and fled, cheating creditors. Together with the Doctor come Polishinel, innkeeper and other people who believed Leandro and Crispin and now dream of only one thing – to return their money. The case turns out rather deplorably, but the cheerful Crispin is even turning around: he proves eloquently to each of those present how meaningless it would be for the two friends to be imprisoned – for then the money will surely be lost.
Out of the back room are Sylvia, Leander, Dona Sirena and Mrs. Polishinel. Sylvia says that now she knows everything about Leandra, but she still asks her father to give her for him and explains how nobly the young man behaved towards her. Polychinel does not want to listen, but everything is against him, even his soup is ruga. The participants are concerned not so much with the happiness of young people, but with the thought of earning money for their happiness, and they begin to persuade Polishinel in chorus. At the most pathetic moment, Sylvia refuses the money of her father, and Leander fervently supports the girl. Here, all the assembled turn their wrath on the lovers and literally force all of the truths and fouls of Mr. Polishinel to sign a generous donation in favor of the young. Polychinel surrenders, putting only one condition – that Leander dismissed Crispin. This quite coincides with the desire of Crispin himself, whose ambition, he admits, is much greater than that of Leander, and he is determined to achieve a lot in his life, especially since he knows how to do it – it is necessary to play on the interests of people, not on their feelings. So complete reconciliation of interests of all actors and comedy ends.