4/23/2013 7:47 AM
Pantomime is set at a run-down guesthouse in Tobago, West Indies. The focal point of the play is the relationship between the British hotel owner Harry Trewe and the Trinidadian waiter at the hotel, Jackson Phillip. Former repertory actor Trewe, in an effort to attract tourists to his guesthouse, devises a plan to perform a satirical pantomime that reverses the roles of Robinson Crusoe and Friday; he casts the unwilling Phillip as Crusoe. What follows is a series of skits exploring the effects of this role reversal. Pantomime is a powerful work that explores and subsequently deconstructs Caribbean identity as fabricated by the white European colonizer. By having the characters perform particular identities, Walcott emphasizes how Caribbean identity is a mere construction of the colonizer. His play challenges Western audiences to reconsider their perceptions of the "self" and "Other" and notions of identity.