A chorus of mourners appear, warning the audience that the story they are about to see may be disturbing, and inviting “those with weaker constitutions” to leave, immediately (“Prologue: A Warning to the Audience”). Then, the audience is transported to a prison cell in 1909, where Lord Montague D'Ysquith Navarro, Ninth Earl of Highhurst, is composing his memoir, entitled A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder. The earl, who is called “Monty,” directly addresses the audience, taking them back to the beginning of the story.
Flashback to 1907. Monty, recently returned to his modest Clapham apartment following his mother’s funeral, opens the door to reveal a strange old woman, who claims to know his parents. The woman, who calls herself Marietta Shingle, informs Monty that, contrary to what he’d always been told, his mother was, in fact, not a poor washerwoman, but an aristocrat, and heir to the famous D’Ysquith family. Marietta tells Monty that his mother fell in love with a poor