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Plays About Deception, Dishonesty, Hypocrisy or Secrets

These plays feature characters who are deceiving others, trying to keep secrets, telling lies or living a double life, or otherwise scheming for their own benefit. See also:

Starstruck by Roy Williams

Dennis, a young man, is at a Kingston Bus Station. Another young man arrives carrying several bags. Dennis starts talking to him, but the man is suspicious. His mother warned him about thieves. Dennis assures him he only wants to help. He calls a cab for the man. Dennis hears from his girlfriend, Pammy, about a movie star who’s shooting a film in Kingston. Meanwhile, Gravel plans on starting a taxi service.

The beginning of this play can be read in the preview of Starstruck’ & ‘The No-Boys Cricket Club(Kindle preview)

Dark Road by Ian Rankin and Mark Thomson

It’s Isobel’s thirtieth anniversary on the force, making her eligible for retirement. Her daughter, Alexandra, is in her last year of university and still lives at home. Isobel has risen to Chief Superintendent. There’s a little gathering at the office with Detective Superintendent Frank and retired Chief Constable Fergus. Isobel says she’s thinking of writing a book about Chalmers, a killer she put away twenty-five years ago. She’s uncomfortable with the conviction due to notable missing evidence. Her colleagues urge her to stay away from Chalmers and leave the case alone.

The first two scenes of this play can be read in the preview of Dark Road. (20% in Kindle preview)

The Alchemist by Ben Jonson

The master of the house is away. The butler, Jeremy, is involved in a scheme with Subtle, a swindler. Various guests arrive at the house and they get as much money from them as possible. One of the things they propose is a counterfeiting scheme.

Sizwe Bansi is Dead by Athol Fugard (1 Act)

Sizwe Bansi visits the photography studio of Styles. He wants a picture taken to send his wife, and says his name is Robert Zwelinzima. He writes a letter to his wife detailing his search for work and how he came to change his name.

Othello by William Shakespeare (5 Acts)

General Othello is in love with Desdemona. His ensign, Iago, hates him because he was passed over for promotion. Iago’s companion, Roderigo, is also in love with Desdemona. Othello and Desdemona marry. Iago plans to ruin Othello and the man who was promoted over him.

A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen (3 Acts)

Nora comes home after some shopping. Her husband, Torvald, a bank manager, scolds her over her spending. Nora had secured a loan years earlier by forging her father’s signature. She has been secretly paying it back but is finding it difficult. Krogstad, a man who works for her husband, knows Nora’s secret and threatens her when he runs into some problems.

Tartuffe by Moliere (3 Acts)

Orgon is a wealthy Parisian who lives with his family and various other guests. He invites Tartuffe into his home, offering everything he has to the man. He is impressed by Tartuffe’s piety, and wants his daughter to marry him. Other people view Tartuffe as a hypocrite, and his daughter is intent on marrying someone else.

The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde (3 Acts)

Jack, who goes by the name Earnest when he’s in the city, wants to marry Gwendolyn. She accepts because she has always wanted to love someone named Earnest. Lady Bracknell is against the marriage. Earnest’s friend, Algernon, introduces himself to Cecily as Earnest. He proposes to Cecily, only to find she is way ahead of him.

The Trials of Brother Jero by Wole Soyinka (3 Acts)

Brother Jeroboam, a “beach preacher”– a preacher who doesn’t have a church – relates the events of a memorable day. He manipulates and maintains control over his assistant, Chume, and things come to a head.

The Front Page by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur (3 Acts)

Reporters are hanging out in the press room of the Chicago Criminal Courts Building. They’re waiting for the hanging of Earl Williams, a white man convicted of killing a black police officer. They’re surprised by the news that Williams has escaped from his psychiatric examination.

Lady Windermere’s Fan by Oscar Wilde (4 Acts)

Lady Windermere prepares for her birthday party that evening. She’s visited by the Duchess of Berwick, who says Lord Windermere has been spending time and money on a Mrs. Erlynne. Lady Windermere checks her husband’s desk for confirmation.

Volpone by Ben Jonson (5 Acts)

Volpone is a very rich man who takes much pleasure in his wealth. He’s visited by some acquaintances who bring gifts in the hope of gaining his favor. Volpone pretends to be sick; Mosca tells the visitors they could get into Volpone’s will. Shortly after, Volpone sees the wife of one of his visitors and is smitten with her.

The Misanthrope by Molière (5 Acts)

Alceste and Philinte disagree on how sincere and honest one should be in social interactions. Alceste believes in complete honesty, while Philinte believes in showing tact, especially to influential people. Alceste loves Célimène, a woman who flirts with many men. He’s also involved in a lawsuit.

The Ghost Sonata by August Strindberg (3 Acts)

A poor student, Arkenholz, spent the night helping the people in a house collapse. After, he talks to the Milkmaid, whom no one else can see. He then meets The Old Man, who recognizes him and knew the Student’s father. They have differing stories on his history. The Student has admired a beautiful building where the Girl lives and wants to live a prosperous life in a building like it. The Old Man agrees to help leverage his heroism into wealth and success.

Six Degrees of Separation by John Guare

Last night, Flan and Ouisa Kittredge had dinner with Geoffrey, a wealthy friend, in their New York apartment. Flan is an art dealer, and had a proposal for Geoffrey. Their discussion was interrupted by a young African-American man, Paul, who was mugged in Central Park. He knows the Kittredge’s kids from college. He’s also the son of the actor Sidney Poitier. The Kitteredge’s look after him.

They Knew What They Wanted by Sidney Howard (3 Acts)

Tony is about sixty years old and has a farmhouse in Napa Valley. He’s on his way to the train station to pick up his bride-to-be, Amy, a young woman he’s been corresponding with. They’re to be married today, although they’ve never met in person. Tony saw her from a distance in San Francisco and managed to get her contact details. Tony’s foreman, Joe, wrote he letters for him because his English is better. There’s an incident involving Tony on his way to the station. Amy also gets a surprise when she arrives.

The Family Reunion by T. S. Eliot (2 Parts)

Amy, a widow, is in her drawing room with her three sisters and two of their husbands. Amy’s son Harry is returning after being estranged for eight years. Harry’s wife died about a year ago when she was swept off a ship. When Harry arrives he expresses some opinions that concern his family, including a revelation about his wife’s death. His mental state is questionable. Amy hopes that Harry will continue the family estate.

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