It takes place in Seville, Spain and concerns the fate of two houses, the Vitelli's and Alvarez's. Many years ago, Alvarez killed Vitelli's uncle, Don Pedro, and was banished to the low countries to fight in the wars as punishment. News come to Vitelli that Alvarez has been pardoned in payment for his and his son's success in battle. Vitelli is both outraged and heartened in that he will be able to avenge his uncle.
Alvarez returns and meets his wife Eugenia. Here is where things get odd. The son that fought bravely in exile is in fact not a son but a daughter, Clara, who has been raised as a man in military camps. Alvarez's son, Lucio has been raised with his mother in Seville as a girl. Exactly why this was done is unclear but the play would be less interesting if it hadn't been. The main action of the play involves getting Lucio to behave like a man and Clara to behave like a woman. Nothing really works until each falls in love, Clara with Vitelli and Lucio with Vitelli's sister Genevora. Falling in love with their father's sworn enemy and his sister doesn't make things any easier.
The play's big final scene involves a due to settle once and for all the enmity between Vitellli and Alvarez. There is a slight nod to the clear headedness and bravery of women over men as they are the ones who finally put to rest the quarrel. Everything ends well.
There is a subplot involving a corrupt constable, a whore that Vitelli is keeping, and bunch of mechanicals who are his cohorts. It is a strange and likable play. Again given its time it is a bit sexist. It verges on Restoration style but is more Jacobean or Elizabethan in manner. It has some very good verse writing and some interesting scenes. Whenever I read plays form this period I often find them good and very interesting and I wish I could see them performed, but apparently the only playwright of this period anyone ever wants to do is Shakespeare and always the same ten odd plays or so. It gets boring. This play is fun and deserves to be shared again.