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Plays by Alan Richardson


The Bailie’s Stratagem
One Act Comedy
Freely adapted from Carlo Goldoni's "Un Curioso Accidente"

  • First performed by the Largs Players in 1989
  • Published by Brown, Son & Ferguson

Characters (4m 3f)

Bailie William Provan:  A Merchant
Anne Provan:  His daughter, in love with Patrick
Beth:  His maidservant, in love with Geordie
Ensign Patrick Crawford:  In love with Anne
Corporal Geordie Kerr:  Patrick's servant, in love with Beth
Bailie Archibald Ross:  Provan's bitter rival
Constance Ross:  Provan’s daughter, in love with any man who would take her

The Setting: A Room in Bailie's Provan's House  Period: 18th Century

Running Time: 40 minutes


The stratagem of the title is a crafty ploy by Bailie William Provan to become the next town provost by scandalizing his deadly rival, Bailie Ross, while avoiding the clutches of Constance, an unwanted admirer, who also happens to be Ross’s daughter.


After a fire has damaged army barracks close to the town, officers have been temporarily quartered in the private homes of prominent citizens. Never one to miss the chance of some prestige, Provan anticipates a general, but instead ends up with a lowly ensign. Worse still, Ensign Crawford has had the temerity to fall in love with Provan’s daughter, Anne, and a lowly ranking son-in-law is the last thing Provan needs.

Crawford is about to return to his barracks, which is bad news, not only for Anne, but for her maid,  Beth, who has fallen for Crawford’s servant, Corporal Kerr. They will all be parted unless they can make sure Provan wins the election and Crawford gets a swift promotion.

When Provan mistakenly thinks that Constance has turned her attention to Ensign Crawford, his eagerness to accept anything that chimes with his ambitions result in a spiral of romantic misunderstandings and hilarious complications.

This fast-paced 18th century comedy which is freely adapted from Carlo Goldoni’s Un Curioso Accidente can be simply staged with minimal effects and offers seven rewarding character parts.

"Alan Richardson's comedy moves at a brisk pace and keeps the pot boiling nicely" - Amateur Stage