Comedic heroics in Philadelphia via Trinidad

Sitting in a circle in Barton Hall on a Monday evening, the cast of The Playboy of the West Indies practiced reciting lines and working the magic of the script’s lyrical Trinidadian dialect. It was easy to see that opening night wasn’t far away.

Rehearsing every week night from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. for six weeks, the cast put in long hours to make certain they speak in true Trinidadian tongue.

Playwright Mustapha Matura translated the Irish play Playboy of the Western World about a hero into a Trinidadian version, Playboy of the West Indies, and kept the same storyline.

Matura sets his story in a remote fishing village in Trinidad, an island in the Caribbean, and turns the Irish drama into a comical play about how a man who kills his father becomes a hero.

Ken stumbles upon Peggy’s rum shop, and Peggy is in awe of Ken’s heroic feat-the murder of his tyrannical father. Ken, the playboy, stirs the emotions of town residents as they determine what constitutes a hero when his father returns in this romantic, yet tragic, comedy.

“The biggest challenge was learning to work with a dialect,” director David O’Connor said. “We had vocal coaches and Trinidadian natives work with the cast in order to get the dialect as authentic as possible.”

The dialect is written into the script. “It keeps the play musical and gives it a fairytale feel,” O’Connor said.

The cast is full of talent, O’Connor said, and there were enough talents to get the right people for the right roles.

“The cast definitely has a lot of chemistry,” said sophomore Donja Love, who plays the geeky Stanley, Peggy’s first choice for a husband. “The chemistry makes it fun and easy to work with the cast.”

“The Playboy of the West Indies is about heroes and where we look for them,” O’Connor said.

Although the story is centered on a dramatic tragedy, there are still laugh-out-loud moments mixed with some sad ones too.

The Playboy of the West Indies is a hilarious comedy that will likely keep the audience’s attention with its lively cast and physical humor-using body movement to express comical situations. The actors bring the Trinidadian fishing village to life with vibrant dialect and passionate acting.

Mustapha’s play has elements of tragedy, comedy, romance, jealousy and rivalry that culminate together to become an important lesson about what makes a hero. The Randall Theater, in Annenberg Hall, will host the play through its run.

Kaitlyn Dreyling can be reached at

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