For the Love of Darwin

Saturday night, the busiest time of the week, and the kitchen at Pizzeria Perfecto is buckling under the strain.

Mel is rapidly mixing up another batch of dough. She’s not been there long and still isn’t used to the ways – or language – of head chef Steve.

Steve bursts in to the kitchen. True to form, he’s yelling over his shoulder at one of the waiters.

“I’m telling you, one more unreadable order and you are out! Hitchens, Dawkins and Nietzsche! Is it too much to ask for staff who can write?”

Mel, flinching, replies, “They’re probably feeling a bit rushed.”

“We’re all evolution rushed!” fumes Steve. “Doesn’t mean you let standards slip. Now, what was I after? Anchovies.”

Mel starts kneading the dough while Steve hunts in the fridge for anchovies.

“For the love of Jean-Paul Sartre!” cries Steve. “Where are the humanist anchovies?”

Mel, wincing again, says, “We must have run out.”

“Sweet survival of the fittest! Do I have to do everything around here?” he explodes. “We’ll have to make do with tuna.”

Steve opens a cupboard.

“By the origin of the species! There’s no Darwinian tuna!”

Mel’s patience finally snaps. She pushes the dough to one side and spins round to face Steve.

“Could you just stop it!” she cries in frustration.

Steve is stunned.

“What?” he says.

Mel pauses, but knows she can’t stop now.

“What you’re saying.”

“About the tuna?”

“No!” she says. “Your – language. I’m a committed atheist and it’s very hard for me to hear you throwing these words around.”

Steve sniggers.

Mel shoots him a look.

He coughs and says, “But evolution is just a theory.”

“It’s the most compelling explanation for life I’ve heard,” she replies.

He shakes his head.

“So you really believe in all that stuff, like natural selection and everything?”

Mel takes a breath. This is her opportunity and she doesn’t want to mess it up.

“Yes,” she says. “I’m part of this group, actually. We meet up once a week, and someone prepares a short talk, and we might have some music. And we usually take a moment to personally reflect on ‘What would Darwin do?’ And there’s the annual trip to the Natural History Museum, to look at fossils and dinosaur bones. You should come along.”

Steve doesn’t know what to say.

“Yeah, thanks,” he mumbles.

He looks at his feet, then at the wall, and finally back at Mel.

“Look, I’m sorry if I offended you, and I’ll try to watch my words in future.”

She smiles.

“I appreciate that.”

Mel returns to kneading. Steve checks the temperature in the oven and moves the pizzas around on the shelves. Mel picks up a knife and begins scoring the dough.

“Arsene Wenger!” she screeches.

Steve almost drops a pizza.

“I’ve gone and Claudio Ranieri cut my Aston Villa finger!” says Mel, sucking the blood from the wound.

“Wash your mouth out!” barks Steve.

“Oh, for Gareth Bale’s sake!” she moans, as she runs her finger under the tap.

Steve is apoplectic.

“I won’t have language like that in my kitchen!”

Mel looks at him, mystified.

“It’s only football!” she says.

Steve slams his hand down on the bench. He can’t believe what he’s just heard and he won’t stand for it.

“Do not take the name of the beautiful game in vain!”


A version of a script performed at Stitchin’ Fiction at the Boogaloo in Highgate, London, and by RPA at mac, Birmingham.