Based on James Baldwin’s novella Giovanni’s Room, Acts of Deceit is a shattering story of deceit and betrayal. David is a young American living in Paris during the 1950s. Like many young Americans he has stayed in Paris for too long while he figures out his future and runs away from his past.

While his fiancée Hella, also American, is away in Spain considering his marriage proposal, David meets up with an old acquaintance, Jacques, from whom he hopes to borrow some money. They meet in a well-frequented gay bar in the Marais quarter, where David begins a conversation with a west-African bar tender named Ku-Jean. Their friendship quickly blossoms into a lustful affair, much to Jacques amusement and jealousy.

But the affair leaves David feeling isolated, trapped and tormented and when Hella returns to Paris David cruelly abandons Ku-Jean leading to devastating events that will affect the lives of all the characters, including Sue, another young American disillusioned by the romantic allure of the city.

A bleak and poetic romantic tragedy the play is an examination of the torments that accompany the denial of self.

  • romantic drama/tragedy
  • 120
  • 5 total
  • 2 female identifying, 3 male identifying
  • lgbtqia+, culturally and linguistically diverse
  • 18+
  • adult, young adult
  • Australian Script Centre


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Male | 20s | under 3 minutes
Starts on page 77

EXTRACT: ...hoped to choke but I didn't, and then another, and another, and another. But none of them choked me.You are right when you say we become the thing we most despise. I despised myself more than I thought possible. When I could despise myself no more I got back up and went back to the hotel, to Hella, dirty and stinking of what I had done. And I told her about Ku-Jean. I told her about me. I felt nothing as I spoke. And she looked at me. She looked at me. And said nothing.

Adult themes


Female | 30s | under 3 minutes
Starts on page 76

EXTRACT: Pretend that I was all fine about it. Fine about all those pretty boys making eyes at each other, and the old guys making eyes at the pretty boys. Fine that none of 'em were making eyes at me. But really I think it's disgusting. What they do with each other, it makes me sick. They're gonna execute him you know. All the papers are saying so. They'll send him to the guillotine and chop off his head. They're barbaric, the French. Cold, cruel and barbaric.


Male | 20s | 3 to 5 minutes
Starts on page 46

EXTRACT: The thing is, I feel like every room I have ever been in, every room I will ever be in again will remind me of that room. And the thing about that room...the thing is, it's not that it was so filthy, that it stank, that red wine perpetually stained the floor, no, it was that this was not just a matter of habit, or him being lazy or poor, no, this was a room that housed punishment and grief.


Male | 20s | under 3 minutes
Starts on page 21

EXTRACT: I met him in a cinema, when I was still in Les Halles. I had snuck in to watch an American western, a cowboy movie. I like cowboys. After the last gun shot had fired, and I knew that once again good had triumphed over evil, I got up and started to leave. But someone put a hand on my shoulder. It was Guillaume. He was wearing a woman's shirt and he stank of perfume. He began to accuse me of stealing his scarf

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