The action begins at a stately home in rural England, where Colonel Calvarley, the lord of the manor, suddenly expires (or seems to) after sipping a glass of (apparently poisoned) Sauterne. His body is discovered by Hannah, the housekeeper, and Harold, the houseboy, which leads to the arrival of Inspector Farcus of Scotland Yard and his assistant, Potts, two working-class types who have little sympathy for the decadent life styles of the landed gentry. After putting the Colonel in the freezer for safekeeping, the Inspector sets about investigating the circumstances of his death, which brings into suspicion all the others at the manor. There is Alan Hobbiss, the Colonel's business partner (who stands to inherit their equestrian outfitting business); his wife, Berenice (played by a male actor, and smitten with Harold, the houseboy); Charles Appley, the Colonel's legal advisor (who is carrying on with Lady Calvarley); and Lady Calvarley herself (who is hardly dismayed by the Colonel's apparent demise). As their investigation progresses, Farcus and Potts are surprised to find that the Colonel was given to whipping Harold (to their mutual pleasure) and that Harold, despite his cockney accent, is actually a well-born son of privilege trying to escape his upper-class background. And, as it turns out, the Colonel is not actually dead, although, in the second act, after his shocking reappearance, he does manage to expire for real, after a sip of (this time) properly poisoned brandy. The second investigation doesn't fare much better than the first as Inspector Farcus' credentials are called into question; Charles and Lady Calvarley decamp for Spain; Potts takes up with Harold, who decides to accept his inheritance after all; and Farcus himself is persuaded to stay on at the manor by Hannah—who turns out to be the Colonel's possible murderer, his secret lover, and, ironically, his heir as well.
An antic, tongue-in-cheek spoof which pokes wicked fun at the English class system—and at the notion that the "upper classes" live lives of erotic decadence, indulging in arcane sexual pleasures that the envious laboring classes can only read—and dream—about. In the present instance there is also a murder to be solved, some rather complicated relationships to be sorted out, and justice (of a sort) to be done.