Love: A Pantomime
A bare stage, brightly lit. Enter a young man, wearing
a bathing suit, a colorful beach robe thrown over his
shoulders. He carries a large blanket, a black umbrella
(closed), a portable radio, a basket of fruit.
At center stage he sets down basket, radio and
umbrella, and spreads the blanket flat. He places the radio
and the basket at diagonally opposite corners. He takes off
the robe, folds it into a small bundle and sets it on a
third corner of the blanket.
He opens the umbrella, looks up to find the sun, then
sits cross-legged, holding the umbrella between his head and
The wind catches the free corner of the blanket and
blows it up against him. He pushes it away and crawls to the
corner, patting the blanket flat. Then he returns to the
center of the blanket, still holding the umbrella.
Again the wind blows the blanket against him. He
straightens it once more. This time he does not return to
the center of the blanket, but sits off center, holding the
free corner down with one foot.
He looks at the sun, finds it has moved, and adjusts
the umbrella accordingly. He sits, awkwardly content.
A man in a white uniform crosses the stage in front of
him, carrying a large wire basket marked TRASH. The
uniformed man nods; the man on the blanket returns the nod
and waves politely. The uniformed man puts the trash basket
down beside the blanket. He nods again, waves and goes off.
A chubby woman in a sunsuit passes behind the man on
the blanket. She throws a crumpled paper napkin at the trash
basket; it misses and lands on the blanket. She retrieves
the napkin, is apologetic, and drops it into the basket. The
man salutes and forgives her.
A small boy crosses, eating popcorn. When he is nearly offstage, he empties the
bag, crumples it and throws it over his shoulder at the trash container. It
misses, lands on the blanket. The boy goes off.
The man ponders the crumpled bag. He puts the umbrella down between himself and
the paper. The sun is in his face. He raises the umbrella and ponders the
Still holding the umbrella, he stands, picks up the paper bag, drops it in the
trash container. The wind lifts the corner of the blanket and hurls it against
the man's ankles. He replaces it and sits squarely on the offending corner,
facing the trash basket. He adjusts the umbrella.
After a moment, the man extends his hand to turn on the radio. He cannot reach
it. He starts to stand, thinks better of it. He reverses his position, holding
the blanket corner down with his foot. Still he cannot reach the radio. He
lifts his foot; the blanket corner flaps. He ponders.
Grasping the edge of the blanket, he pulls the radio toward him, seizes it
triumphantly when it is within reach. He carefully alters his position and sets
the radio where his foot has been. He turns the radio on, sits by it, is
The wind picks up the blanket by its newly-free corner and blows it against the
man. He gets up, straightens the blanket, sets the trash basket on the free
corner. Still holding the umbrella, he steps back to study the arrangement,
shakes his head, replaces the trash basket.
He stamps on the free corner of the blanket and steps back. The wind lifts the
corner. He takes up the basket of fruit and sets it on the corner. The wind
lifts the corner where the fruit has been. He puts the robe where the fruit has
been; the wind raises the new empty corner. He puts the fruit where the robe
has been; the wind blows the free corner of the blanket. The man sits down on
this corner and ponders the radio.
A pretty woman wearing a bathing suit passes by. The man stands, invites her to
join him. She accepts and sits by the radio. The man invites her to sit on the
corner where he is standing; she shakes her head. He gestures with his free
hand, repeating the invitation; she shakes her head. He lets go of the umbrella
and gestures with both hands. The umbrella begins to ascend; he recaptures it
over his head. The woman agrees to change her place and stands.
The man steps off the blanket, keeping one foot on the free corner. The woman
sits on his foot. Angry, the woman stands again. The man defends himself, lets
go of the umbrella, catches it as it rises over his head. He backs off the
blanket, which is picked up by the wind. The woman sits on the bare stage, gets
The man rearranges the blanket, demonstrates to the woman by standing on the
corner and sitting carefully. She nods, pushes him off the blanket with her
leg, sits correctly. The man picks himself up, sits by the radio. Girl and man
smile at each other. Peace.
The woman signs for him to change the radio station; he does so. She signs
again; he changes it. She signs yet again; he changes it. She nods, smiles. The
man studies the radio, shakes his head, makes a questioning gesture toward the
woman She nods. He shrugs. He ponders the radio, shakes his head, scowls. He
looks at the woman; she is enraptured. He looks at the radio, covers his ears
with both hands. The umbrella ascends; he recaptures it, hooks the handle
around his wrist, covers his ears.
The woman looks at the man, motions to him. He is not aware of this. She
repeats. He is still unaware. She seizes the edge of the banket and pulls it
brusquely toward her, tipping the man over. He sprawls, sits up, looks at her.
She signs that she is cold. He nods, gets up and sits beside her, puts one arm
around her shoulders. He hugs her. She shakes her head, pushes him away, points
to her legs. He nods, kneels and hugs her knees. She pushes him away, signs
again that she is cold.
The man shrugs, stands and picks up the folded robe. That corner of the blanket
is disarranged by the wind. He ignores it. He returns to the woman, spreads the
robe over her legs. She nods thanks. The man bows, straightens his end of the
blanket. He reseats himself beside the radio, scowls at it and covers his ears.
The woman regains the man's attention as she did before, upsetting him by
pulling her end of the blanket. He sprawls, sits up, looks at her. She points
to the sun, shields her eyes, points to the umbrella. He shakes his head,
points at the umbrella, then at himself. In turn, she shakes her head, points
at the umbrella, then at herself. The man shrugs. He gets up, gives her the
umbrella. She takes it, adjusts it, nods to him. He bows, kneels, tries to
embrace her. She pushes him away.
The man sits by the radio without restraightening the blanket. He covers his
ears. A spotlight is turned on, its beam striking him in the face. He squints
at it, turns his face, moves to his left. The light follows him. He moves back.
The light follows him. He moves left until he is sitting beside the woman. The
light follows him. He nudges her, points to the light, then at the umbrella.
She shakes her head. He points at the umbrella, then at himself, then at the
light, She shakes her head, points at the sun, then at herself, then at the
The man squints up at the light, wipes his forehead. He leans to the right; the
light follows. He leans to the left, against the woman; the light follows. The
woman lets go of the umbrella, pushes him away with both hands. The umbrella
drifts upward. The man makes a frantic leap to catch it--too late. The umbrella
disappears. The woman stands, shakes her fist at him and goes off. The robe
falls to the stage in her wake.
The man turns off the radio and sits, shielding his face from the spotlight
with his hands. After a moment he stands, steps off the blanket to retrieve the
robe. The two free corners of the blanket are blown into a tangled heap. The
man returns, sits on the rumpled blanket, puts the robe over his head against
the light. He huddles, clasping the robe under his chin.
The woman returns, carrying a blanket. She spreads it flat on the stage, goes
off. The man watches, gets up, does a little dance. The light follows him. He
goes to the woman's blanket and studies it. It does not move. He lifts one
corner a few inches off the stage, lets go. The corner falls flat. The man
circles the blanket to the other side, lifts another corner, drops it. The
corner falls flat. He looks up, scratching his nose. The light blinds him.
The man returns to his own blanket, picks up the basket of fruit. The released
corner is blown into a heap with the other corners. The man sits on the heap,
straddling the basket of fruit.
The woman re-enters, carrying a folded newspaper and an opened white parasol.
She sits cross-legged in the center of her blanket, shakes open the newspaper.
She lets go of the parasol in order to hold the paper with both hands. The man
jumps up, clapping his hands and knocking over the fruit basket. An apple, an
orange, a banana and a grapefruit tumble out of the basket. The man ignores
them, watching the parasol; the parasol does not ascend, but remains suspended
over the woman's head. Even though the man traces with his gaze the path he
expects it to follow, it stays in place.
The man picks up the basket and goes about the stage, recovering the spilled
fruit. He puts down the basket and polishes each item with the robe before
replacing it. As he drops in the last piece of fruit, he notices something
inside the basket. He reaches in and withdraws a wide strip of ribbon. He holds
it up; it reads SUCCESS. He picks up the basket, goes to the trash container
and throws the ribbon away. He returns to sit on his disordered blanket.
The woman finishes reading her newspaper. She folds it tightly, takes careful
aim at the trash container, throws the paper. The paper misses and hits the
man. He leaps to his feet, carrying the basket of fruit, and goes to her. He
scolds her. She shrugs. He stamps his feet on a corner of her blanket. She
folds her arms and turns her back on him. He circles and shakes his basket in
her face. She takes a step away from him.
The man reaches into the basket and removes the orange. He offers it to the
woman. She looks, rejects it. He tosses it into the trash container. He offers
her the grapefruit. She shakes her head. He throws the grapefruit into the
trash container. He offers her the banana. She refuses. He throws the banana
into the trash. He offers her the apple. She accepts. She takes a bite from the
apple, throws it into the trash container, slaps the man's face. He sits down
The woman closes her parasol and tucks it under her arm. She picks up the
blanket. She stalks off the stage. The man gets up, throws the basket after
He returns to the blanket, picks up the newspaper, drops it in the trash
container. He looks in after it, trying to read it. He picks up his radio,
throws it into the trash container. The last free corner of the blanket is
tumbled by the wind. The man picks up the blanket, throws it into the trash
container. He looks about the stage. He takes off the robe, shakes his fist at
the spotlight, pushes the robe into the trash basket.
He starts to walk away, returns to the container, retrieves the robe. He takes
the belt from the robe, throws the robe back in with the other trash. He tests
the strength of the belt with his hands, looks around over his head for
something to attach it to, goes off gaily, swinging the belt. The light follows
him to the wings and turns off.
The man in the white uniform enters from the other side of the stage, lifts the
trash basket and carries it off. The stage is bare. The curtain descends.