While the master of the house is out of town to escape the plague, his house-keeper sets up with 'a cheater and his punk' as the city's premiere conman. A full range of alternative services is offered to the citizens who beat a furtive path to their door - anything from the secret of eternal youth to that recipe of recipes, which will turn a tin can into bankable gold. Masters of the ludicrous disguise, in one amazing day they aim to prove 'who shall shark the best.' Their frantic fraudulence reaches boiling point when the gang receives some alarming news. Jonson's satire The Alchemist mercilessly burns away the dross, exposing a society whose obsessions make it vulnerable to any well worked scam - as long as it promises the instant jackpot in business, gambling, quarrelling or sexual conquest.