The Gentleman Usher by George Chapman

Title: The Gentleman Usher.
Author: George Chapman.
Date: c. 1606.

Genre: Comedy.
Language Difficulty Rating: 7 (more challenging).
Setting: Italy.

The Gentleman Usher is Chapman’s comedic classic. Although the entire play is a rollicking farce, the scenes featuring the self-important servant Bassiolo are among the funniest; look out in particular for the hilarious scene in which Bassiolo presumes to teach Lady Margaret how to write a love letter. The play features a lusty old duke, an alcoholic and lusty spinster, and a not-so-lusty young man whose main job seems to be to constantly deliver bad news. Any questions?

Our Story: the elderly Duke Alphonso intends to marry the beautiful Margaret, daughter of the noble Earl Lasso. Margaret, however, has a secret understanding with the Duke’s son Vincentio. Wishing to hurry along his suit, Vincentio pretends to befriend the head servant of the Lasso household, Bassiolo, hoping he will act as a messenger between Vincentio and Margaret. The vain gentleman servant, Bassiolo, falls for Vincentio’s dissembling; the question is, can Vincentio marry Margaret before the Duke does?

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