.          all rights belong to Tanis Harms, © 2016
.             refer to
www.church-skits.com

MYSTERY DINNER – RECIPE FOR DISASTER
.                              – written by Tanis Harms

PREMISE:     As the chef is preparing a spectacular meal
.            for the guests, someone sabotages the
.            signature soufflé dish.  The dinner guests
.            are asked to help search for clues
.            and question the suspects, and help
.            figure out who is the saboteur.
STYLE:       like an interactive murder mystery dinner
TOPIC:       revenge
SCRIPTURE:   Lev.19:18
NOTES:       for CAST, SET, PROPS, OTHER INSTRUCTIONS



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SCRIPT:              INTRODUCTION

(In character, JEAN PIERRE is stationed at the podium
to welcome guests as they arrive.  He would take
the tickets or names if any of these things are involved.  
And if there are seating plans, have the tables numbered
appropriately, otherwise JEAN PIERRE would simply ask
WAITER ALICE to seat the guests somewhere.  
If you have many guests, you may require extra help
from non-actors.  These people can just do their job.
Otherwise, all actors should always stay in character.
The only silliness would come from ALICE, as this is part of his/her
character.  EXAMPLE of what can be done...)

J.P.    Bonjour, welcome to Café le Petit.
.       Do you have reservation?...
.       Ah, yes, we seat you at z’e very finest table.
.       Okay?  Alice?  (if Alice is available)
.       Alice, please seat our guest...

(Examples for Alice.)                                   2

ALICE   (to guests)  Oookay then, if you will,
.       walk this way.

(ALICE does a silly walk, then looks behind to see
if guests are doing the same.  If not...)

ALICE   You’re not all walking this way.  Come on.
.       Do your best.  Or do your worst.
.       All you can do is try.

(JEAN PIERRE can notice this from time to time and become
angry.  He can put his hand out to the next guests.)

J.P.    No-no.  Forgive me, excuse moi.
.       S'il vous plait.
.       Please-  Un moment.

(JEAN PIERRE can rush up to ALICE and whisper loudly.)

J.P.    Alice, s'il vous plait!
.       Please!  Es too much.
.       You embarrass z’e guests and me.

(JEAN PIERRE returns to podium and tends to next guests.
ALICE can remain mischievous.)

ALICE   Okay then, you heard him,
.       walk this way – but – just a little bit.
     Like this, then.  Come on!

(ALICE continues to walk silly, but not as pronounced.  
And for different guests, have different styles of walks.
Or think of something else – just keep it safe and
appropriate.  If people start to get restless,
JEAN PIERRE can walk around from table to table...)

J.P.    So sorry!  We still expect more guests.
.       Z’e first course will be served soon.
.       T’ank you for your patience.  Merci!
.       Merci beaucoup.  It will be very nice -
.       wors z’e wait.  You will see.  T’ank you.
.       D’is is z’e finest restaurant in z’e world.
.       It will not disappoint.

.                     APPETIZERS                      3

(Once guests are all seated, JEAN PIERRE claps his hands
together for attention from guests and everyone else.)

J.P.    Attention!  Please.  S'il vous plait!  
.       Before we begin, I hear someone will pray first?
.       Please- (motions to person to pray, then...)
.       Now, it is time to serve z’e first course.
.       Z’e appetizers.  Bon appetite.

(Kitchen help and ALICE serve.  OR if you decide to serve
appetizers while guests are arriving, set up intermittent
scenes with JEAN PIERRE checking in with the guests...
And/or if a guest sees a candy-bug, JEAN PIERRE can scan
the table and see one on the plate or serving tray,
pausing with great horror to pick it up and study.
ALICE can be giggling from somewhere.)

J.P.    How is everything so far?...
.       (seeing bug)  What is d’is?  What is d’is?!!!
.       Alice!  Alice!  What is d’is?  Eh?

(Stifling laughter, ALICE approaches to look, then eat.)

ALICE   Hm, candy. Don’t the French call it an Amuse Bush?

J.P.    Amuse Busch (A-mooz Boosh)?

ALICE   Yeah, that’s it.  It means, amused mouth, right?
.       What could be more amusing, aye?

J.P.    But ‘ow did it get ‘ere?  Are d’ere more?
.         (ALICE shrugs mysteriously at the questions)
.       D’is is too much!  Too much!  
.       Get - get rid of d’em.  Immediately!  Please!

(If there are more, ALICE can ask guests while eating...)

ALICE   Candy-bug?  They’re delish.  I’ll certainly
.       eat ‘em if you don’t.  How about you, then?
.       Interested in eating your candy-bug?
.       I’ll take it off your plate if you’re
.       not at all interested.  Or, maybe a tiny little
.       doggie bag to take it home with you?
.       No problem, then.  Sorry about that.
.                                                       4
.                        ACT 1

(Once appetizers have been served and guests are eating,
JEAN PIERRE claps his hands to bring out/over:  ALICE,
CHEF ANDRÉ, SOUS CHEF, and VAL.  Clapping of the hands
is part of the act, as well as to get guests’ attention.  
Keep attention and energy going by acting large so that
guests will know something important is happening.)

J.P.    Attention staff.  Attention, please.  Now,
.       listen to me.  Service is under way.
.       And d’is must be z’e most spectacular meal
.       ever served.  Anywhere!  Yes?  Chef André!
.       What do you ‘ave in store for us tonight?

ANDRÉ   T’ank you.  If you please, for tonight
.       z’e main entre– I will make – my signature dish –
.       (with big gusto) my special Chef André soufflé.

(JEAN PIERRE “ooo”s his admiration, then looks around
at everyone, who quickly “awwww”s their response.)

J.P.    What is wrong with you people?  You must show
.       your respect to z’e great Chef André.

SOUS    Sì.  But – the, ah, last-a few-a times-a,
.       it did not-a work out-a so-a good.
.       (continue inserting the Italian inflections)

ANDRÉ   Oui!  Indeed.  But I do not understand why.
.       I never make mistakes.  Never!
.       I t’ink – somet’ing else ‘appened.  Perhaps –
.       one of you did somet’ing to sabotage?
.       (to ALICE)  Like YOU wit’ your practical jokes...

ALICE   Hey, I know when to stop!

SOUS    (to ANDRÉ) Perhaps you are not-a such-a good cook,
.       as they say.  Perhaps I should-a be executive chef.
.       Huh?  At-a very least, I make-a the soufflé?

ANDRÉ   All z’e time, you just want my job.  And –
.       you are Italian!  What you know of making
.       a soufflé?  Soufflés require French touch.

VAL     (to ANDRÉ)  I can touch!  Ah, I can help!    5

ANDRÉ   You!  You I cannot trust.  Especially you!
.       Everyt’ing you do is wrong!  Mistakes -
.       d’at is what you do.  I cannot work like d’is!
.       I need to be left alone in peace – in order
.       to make my soufflé tre magnifique.

(SOUS, VAL and ALICE all speak at once, things like...)

SOUS    So you no want-a help!  You no trust-a me!
VAL     That is the thanks I get for all I do!
ALICE   Maybe you deserve what you get!

J.P.    Stop!  Stop this at once.  I do not care ‘ow,
.       just make it - tre magnifique.

ANDRÉ   But first we make z’e salad.

SOUS    For sure I can-a make a salad.  I know
.       a fantastico recipe I will-a use.

ANDRÉ   Always!  You try to take control?

SOUS    Why not you give me some-a control?

ANDRÉ   I am z’e executive chef.

SOUS    And I am-a sous chef.

J.P.    Everyone!  Our guests are right d’ere!
.       D’ey can ‘ere you!  You do not want
.       to scare d’em away, no?

ANDRÉ   H'okay-h'okay.  We make z’e salad - together.

VAL     I can help!  I want to help.  How else
.       can I learn but to work with the best?

ANDRÉ   We do not need your kind of help.

SOUS    You can a-help by keeping you’re a-help away.

(ANDRÉ and SOUS CHEF exits.  JEAN PIERRE stops VAL
from following them.)

J.P.    Val, you will help bus tables.              6

VAL     I am able to do way more
.       than just clean up!

(JEAN PIERRE points toward the guests while staring down
VAL.  ALICE helps to usher VAL toward the tables.)

ALICE   (to VAL)  But can you juggle plates?  Huh?
.       Want to see me juggle some plates?

J.P.    (yells after ALICE)
.       Alice! You have been warned
.       against juggling plates.  Or bowls.  Or cups!
.       Or any other sort of dish!...
.       Including flatware!
.       Remember z’e incident with z’e knife?

(VAL helps to collect dishes from guests who are done.
If someone asks ALICE to juggle, ALICE can say...)

ALICE   I’ve been forbidden.
.       Besides, I’m laying low.
.       I’ve got me some other plans.  Sh!
.       Oh! But – he never mentioned napkins! Eh?
.       I could juggle me some napkins.
.       After all, what is life,
.       if you can’t have a bit of fun!?  Eh?

(While JEAN PIERRE stands at podium to study his notes,
the kitchen help does the real cleaning.  ALICE can
try juggling clean napkins, maybe kept in his pocket.  
VAL complains a bit to guests, saying things like...)

VAL     Was everything okay?  Because if it wasn’t,
.       I would love nothing better
.       than to tell the chef
.       that his cooking is terrible.
.       No?  Okay.
.       But Chef André’s going to be very sorry
.       that he doesn’t let me help.
.       You’ll see.  One day –
.       it’s going to catch up with him.

(Clean up dishes quickly so guests can watch...)

.                         ACT 2                       7

(JULIA enters with a grand pose, all dressed up to go out.)

JULIA   Hello darling Jean Pierre!  How do I look?

(Not hearing a response, JULIA looks over at
JEAN PIERRE, still absorbed in his task at the podium.
JULIA clears her throat and restrikes her pose.)

JULIA   Jean Pierre?  Am I not ravishing?

J.P.    (still studying menu)  SO! – VERY! - delicious.

(JULIA shuffle-dances over to JEAN PIERRE to hug his arm.
In the background, SOUS CHEF enters and pulls out
the cookbook and flips through the pages.)

J.P.    Chef André’s soufflé is z’e most delicious t’ing
.       ever – when it turns out – of course.

JULIA   What?! This again?  You and that stupid soufflé?

(SOUS CHEF overhears and rolls his eyes, nodding,
then goes back to studying it and taking some notes
with the pad of paper and pen that sits on the table.)

J.P.    (now notices JULIA)  Ahhhh, Julia.

JULIA   I thought we might go out on a date tonight.

J.P.    I cannot.  Tonight - d’is is a very important
.       dinner service.  And now, we ‘ave a problem.

JULIA   (pouts)  Yes, we have a problem.
.       Seems like my boyfriend has been ignoring me!

J.P.    Well, it is not YET a problem.

JULIA   I would argue otherwise.  
.       Seems my boyfriend forgets that I even exist.

J.P.    Z’e problem has not yet happened, but I am
.       for whatever reason, fully expecting it.

JULIA   Ooooh, it has so happened yet... already!
.                                                   8
J.P.    Well, yes, d’ere is d’at, too.
.       Chef André’s soufflé has fallen twice before.
.       But WE - Chef André and I –
.       WE believe it is a possible sabotage.

JULIA   We are not even talking about the same problem.

J.P.    D’ere is more?

JULIA   DO YOU NOT SEE ME???!!!

(Even SOUS CHEF looks up at JULIA, freezing with fear.)

J.P.    Ahhh... I t’ink so I see what you mean...  Eh?
.       d’eh shoes do not work so good with z’e dress?

(JULIA shrieks.  SOUS CHEF quickly rips off a leaf from
the notepad and rushes out.  Meanwhile, CLARA-LYNN enters
and waits with feigned patience but some obvious distain.)

J.P.    But I t’ink so you look very beautiful,
.       all z’e same.

JULIA   You T’INK so?  -  Thank you - I think.

C.L.    (breaks in boldly)  By now, J.P. should KNOW – that
.       his sweet Julia, here, is completely self-absorbed.

J.P.    Maman!  (maw-MAW)

JULIA   (dryly)  Why, Mrs. Abney.  How do you do?

C.L.    Are you trying to make me feel older on purpose,
.       darling?  Do call me Miss Clara-Lynn, please.

(ALICE joins the conversation with keen interest, while
VAL sees cookbook on the table, and stops to study it.)

ALICE   (to J.P.)  THIS is your mother?  But- ah...
.       she’s got a southern accent.  While –
.       you’ve got a strange – some sort of French accent.

J.P.    D’at is because I take after my fad’er’s side.

C.L.    My son, John-
.                                                    9
J.P.    (quickly correcting her)  -Jean Pierre!

C.L.    Or – J.P. – as we actually like to call him,
.       has worked at the finest restaurants in Paris.
.       I’m terribly proud of him.  And now he is
.       maître d' at THIS fine establishment.

ALICE   Fine?  Or perhaps right now we could call it –
.       the MYSTERIOUS establishment.  BWAH-ha-ha-haaaa!

J.P.    Alice, do you not ‘ave somet’ing better to do?

ALICE   Nope.  But - I can find something else.

(As ALICE turns, he sees VAL just leaving the cookbook.  
Curious, ALICE stops to study it as well.)

C.L.    Well, J.P., do tell me you have SOME time-

J.P.    No!  No time!  No time at all.  Because -
.       (moves closer to CLARA-LYNN, followed by JULIA)
.       because WE -

JULIA   (quickly, dryly) Meaning Chef André and J.P.-

J.P.    WE - t’ink something suspicious is ‘appening.
.       (J.P. speaks aside with C.L.)  Sabotage!

(Feeling even more neglected, JULIA looks around and sees
ALICE walking away from the cookbook.  JULIA approaches,
turning her back to casually flip through the cookbook
while JEAN PIERRE and CLARA-LYNN hold their discussion.)

C.L.    Sabotage?  But who would do such a thing?
.       Now what I suspect – is - you should be using
.       MY soufflé recipe.  Easy-peasy and handed down
.       by generations of lovely southern belles.

J.P.    Maman, your soufflé is marvelous, but –
.       ‘ow can I say, it is not - Chef André’s.

C.L.    But it keeps failing on him, now, doesn’t it?
.       Why, I just think, maybe you need me to take over.
.       Soufflés really aren’t that difficult, you know?
.       How’s about if I have a little talk with him?
.                                                   10
J.P.    Maman!  No!  S'il vous plait,  I beg you – no.

C.L.    Honey child, don’t you know any better?
.       Your mama’s always right.
.       (loudly directed at JULIA)  About everything!

(Hearing the insult intended for her, JULIA
slams cookbook shut and struts over.)

JULIA   Are you implying something about me?

C.L.    Darling, you know – I’m sure you’re a very – ah-
.       why, I’m sure that you could maybe – ah – well -
.       I just know for a fact, that you and my son,
.       go together like oil and vinegar.

JULIA   Actually, those two things really do go together.
.       Quite well, in fact.

C.L.    Well whatever.  I know my son deserves better.

JULIA   Better?  I went to finishing school, and studied
.       in Europe.  I could not be any better if I tried.

J.P.    Julia!  (to C.L.)  Maman, could you excuse us?
.       Un moment?  S'il vous plait?

C.L.    Anything for you, darling.  Just as long as you
.       let this little filly know just where she stands.
.       Or – doesn’t stand, if you catch my drift?

(CLARA-LYNN goes to flip through the cookbook, while
JEAN PIERRE and JULIA talk together.)

J.P.    Julia. Julia? Julia! I do not ‘ave time for d’es.

JULIA   Seems like you never have ANY time for ME –
.       for us.  Meaning us- you and me.
.       Us- which would always include me.  Except that -
.       it hasn’t.  I have not seen you – in quite a while.

J.P.    I see you now.  You see me.  Now, you may go?

(JULIA starts to feign despair and tragic weeping.)

JULIA   But how can you just toss me out like that?    11
.       All alone - with no hope – of ever seeing you –
.       ever again - with no future – of us – with me –
.       all gone – ALL GONE - and so alone – by myself-

(JEAN PIERRE waits patiently although unaffected by this
fake show of emotion which dwindles down into whispers.)

J.P.    (finally)  Because – I ‘ave a mystery to fix.

JULIA   Then I will stay and help!  At least that way -
.       I get to see you.  AND THAT WAY –
.       (aiming the comment at C.L.)
.       I can prove that I am NOT self-absorbed.

C.L     (shuts the cookbook)  J.P., I am here to help
.       as well.  So firstly, I must show you -
.       the flower bouquet in the entry way.  It’s
.       a complete disaster.  And now I’m thinking that
.       it just might be part of this sabotage-mystery.

(CLARA-LYNN leads JEAN PIERRE outside.  JULIA steps aside
to listen as CHEF ANDRÉ and SOUS CHEF enter arguing.)

ANDRÉ   But why do you question me?  I simply ask
.       for a flower garnish made from carrots.

SOUS    I think so it would-a be so much-a better
.       with-a radish.

ANDRÉ   Z‘e presentation and flavor profile
.       is only fabulous with z’e carrot.

JULIA   (sidles up to ANDRÉ with a smile)
.       I do prefer the carrot garnish, myself.

SOUS    This is more a question of-a respect-a.
.       You never have-a respected me.
.       You don’t-a even-a know my name.

ANDRÉ   Your name?  Well, ah, you are, ah, ah...
.       z’e sous chef.

SOUS    That is-a my-a title.  But not my-a name.
.       So there you-a go?  You no-a respect me.
.       And this will-a cause you some-a regret!
.                                                 12
ANDRÉ   Is d’is a t’reat?

(SOUS CHEF throws up his hands in disgust and exits.
ANDRÉ tries to move, but JULIA is right there.)

JULIA   I’m Julia... Jean Pierre’s girlfriend!
.       I’m here to help.  So tell me what you need.
.       I will go to the ENDS OF THE EARTH to-

ANDRÉ   No need to go d’is far.  But – if you could?

JULIA   Yes?

ANDRÉ   Please, go stand over d’ere,
.       so you are not in z’e way.

(JULIA tries to hide her gasp as JEAN PIERRE and
CLARA-LYNN reenter.  JULIA tries to recover face.)

JULIA   Why, Chef André, am I distracting you?

ANDRÉ   Eh?  No-no-no!  You are just in z-e way.
.       Excuse moi, s'il vous plait.

(Insulted, JULIA walks back toward the podium area.)

C.L.    You need to be helping more.  Like I’m doing.
.       And doing a little less of that–there –

JULIA   What that-there?

C.L.    I see exactly what you were trying to do, there,
.       missy.  And J.P. can see it too.

J.P.    See what?

(JULIA spreads her hands as if it’s proof of something.)

C.L.    Son!  She’s trying to make you jealous-  

JULIA   Funny thing.  When I saw the flower bouquet,
.       it looked just fine.  Then you came in after
.       everyone else was already here- So what happened?

J.P.    Ladies, please!  Ugh, Maman!  Nooooo!
.                                                   13
(CHEF ANDRÉ enters, and CLARA-LYNN marches over.
JEAN PIERRE follows behind with hand motions for ANDRÉ to
understand, like praying-pleading-hands and big shrugs.)

C.L..   There’s the chef.  Now, Chef André,
.       I have the greatest amount of respect,
.       but I hear that you’re still having issues
.       with your soufflé recipe.  And I’m here to
.       offer you my southern belle soufflé recipe.
.       I have it all right here with me, right up here
.       in my head.  So just let me write it down,
.       or – I could go into the kitchen to make it-

(CHEF ANDRÉ pulls the notepad away from CLARA-LYNN
and throws it back onto the table, then grabs her shoulders
to turn her around and gently push her away.)

ANDRÉ   Merci!  But no!  Please!  You insult me.
.       D’is is my signature dish, we speak about.
.       My masterpiece!  Yes?  D’is – is my LIFE!
.       My entire reputation is built on d’is soufflé.

C.L.    Well I’ll be!  You have insulted ME, young man.  
.       And – and - this certainly is not over
.       by any stretch of the imagination!

(SOUS CHEF, VAL and ALICE enter with some trepidation.
When SOUS CHEF thinks it is safe, he announces...)

SOUS    The, ah, salad, it is-a ready.

ANDRÉ   Wit’ z-e carrot garnish?

SOUS    Sì???...

(UNLESS the salad being served does not have a garnish,
then have SOUS CHEF adds...)

SOUS    Nooo.  We decide – no garnish.  No fight.  Okay?

ANDRÉ   (turns calmly to J.P.)  H’okay.  Salad is served.

J.P.    (claps his hands)  H’okay.  Please.
.       Second course is ready.  Let us serve z’e salad.

.                       SALAD                        14

(Kitchen help and ALICE hop to and serve the salad.
JEAN PIERRE walks around to check in with the guests...)

J.P.    Is it good?  Yes?
.       How is everyt’ing so far?

(Unless a guest sees a licorice string, JEAN PIERRE
can scan the table and see one in the salad.
Without touching the food, JEAN PIERRE picks out
a licorice string or he has the guest pull it out.
JEAN PIERRE tries to contain his outrageous anger.  
ALICE giggles from somewhere.)

J.P.    What is d’is?  Eh?  What is d’is?!!!
.       Alice!  Alice!.. What is d’is?

ALICE   Well, I’d say it LOOKS like-

J.P.    Ah!  Do not even say it.
.       Just z’e word-
.       it is not appetizing.

ALICE   All right then.

(If required, ALICE looks, then takes and eats it,
with an expression of delight.)

ALICE   Hm, licorice.  (or spaghetti)

J.P.    ‘ow did it get d’ere?  Again?  Are d’ere more?

(ALICE shrugs mysteriously at the questions.)

J.P.    D’is is too much!  What are you t’inking?
.       Get – get rid of d’em.  Now!  Please.
.       ‘op to it.

(If there are more hidden in the plates/trays,
ALICE can ask the guests as they are eating...)

ALICE   Licorice?  (spaghetti)
.       So delish.
.       I’ll certainly eat ‘em if you don’t.

.                        ACT 3                     15

(Once salad has been served and guests have eaten,
JEAN PIERRE claps his hands to have VAL, ALICE and
kitchen help collect the plates.  CLARA-LYNN and
JULIA suddenly decide to help.)

C.L.    Little missy! Just what d’you think you’re doing?

JULIA   Helping!  One of these days, SOMETHING
.       should get your son’s attention!

(As CLARA-LYNN walks around taking a dish here and there,
she coyly speaks with the guests with things like...)

C.L.    Well, what did ya’all think?  If you thought this
.       was good, ya’ll need to taste one of my salads.
.       Perhaps, if one of ya’all could suggest to J.P.
.       that he hire me as executive chef, then you’d
.       be coming here to eat every single day.  ‘Cause
.       ya ain’t tasted real food, until you’ve tried
.       my southern home-styled cooking.  Boy howdy!
.       That fancy-schmancy hoity-toity French chef right
.       over there should take a few lessons from me,
.       if he knows what’s good for him, that’s fo-sure!

(CLARA-LYNN, JULIA, ALICE and VAL return from
busing tables.  CLARA-LYNN throws her comment at JULIA.)

C.L.    Boy howdy!  Nothing beats working real hard
.       and HONEST-like.

ALICE   Was that meant for Julia, or me?

ANDRÉ   I do not trust d’is one.

(ALICE puts up hands as if to say ‘I’m done’ then exits.)

SOUS    We should-a start on the main-a course?  

ANDRÉ   Do not tell me what to do!  Now!  Please!
.       We should start on z’e main course!
.       I will be z’e only one to make z’e soufflé!
.       You - will make everyt’ing else!  Oui?
.       But - I keep my eyes on you!

(SOUS CHEF throws hands up with frustration       16
and exits.  VAL timidly steps forward.)

VAL     I can help – if you like.

ANDRÉ   I do not like.  You and z’e bumbling mistakes
.       you do, perhaps you do d’em on purpose?

VAL     What?  No!  I mean – I’m trying.  I am.
.       I do not want to spend my entire life cleaning
.       things up!  I just want to be a great chef!
.       Some day!  So I need to learn – from the best.
.       PLEEEAAASSSEEE let me help.

(CHEF ANDRÉ studies VAL for a few seconds then grabs
the notepad and pen to scribble a few items down.
These could already be written [on the second page].
CHEF ANDRÉ tears off the sheet and hands it to VAL.)

ANDRÉ   D’ere you go!  Bring me d’ese ingredients.

VAL     Thank you.  You so will NOT regret this.

ANDRÉ   Please, quickly, before I do!  Vit-vit!

VAL     Yes-yes! I vit!

(VAL rushes out, while ANDRÉ turns to the cookbook and
tries to study the soufflé recipe.  As JEAN PIERRE posts
himself at the podium, and CLARA-LYNN fixes her makeup
with a compact, JULIA looks at J.P. and clears her throat,
but J.P. is too absorbed; so JULIA approaches CHEF ANDRÉ,
standing between him and the kitchen exit.)

JULIA   You know, I can certainly understand
.       why Jean Pierre admires you so.
.       You are a true artist!  Once,
.       I had the pleasure of tasting
.       your world renowned soufflé, and it was –
.       beyond delicious.  Words fail me,
.       that is how exquisite the dish tasted.
.       That first bite – simply brought tears to my eyes
.       as it danced around on my palate like – like
.       playful bubbles.  And melted on my tongue –
.       like – dissipating clouds on a sunny day-

C.L.    (without moving)  Oh, my word,               17
.       you are so full of it.  All of it!  Bubbles,
.       clouds, air – you’re nothing but fluff.

(JULIA gasps angrily.  VAL enters with the tray
of ingredients, which are in containers marked
“cayenne pepper” “salt” and “flour”. VAL tries to
hand it over to CHEF ANDRÉ, but JULIA stands in his way.
Just at that moment, SOUS CHEF can be heard calling...)

SOUS    (offstage) VAL! VAL! Get in here immediately!

(VAL freezes, thinking.  JULIA takes the tray,
so VAL can quickly exit.  Meanwhile JULIA keeps
holding the tray, intent on lashing out.)

JULIA   Well, if so, I am not the only one!
.       MISS Clara-Lynn!  You could fill up all
.       the Macy's Parade balloons with all YOUR hot air!

(CLARA-LYNN has put her compact away and marches
straight up to JULIA to drag her out – while still
holding the tray - into the “kitchen” while saying...)

C.L.    I’ve had just about enough of you, missy!
.       We need to get a few things straight, right now.
.       Draw some lines in the sand, so to say.

(CHEF ANDRÉ and JEAN PIERRE freeze, waiting, listening...)

ANDRÉ   My friend, you are more whipped d’an
.       my soufflé eggs...

J.P.    It seems very quiet.

ANDRÉ   Too quiet...  Way too quite.

(SOUS-CHEF can be heard yelling, as JULIA and CLARA-LYNN
enter from the kitchen area. JULIA no longer has the tray.)

SOUS    (offstage)  Why these-a women in-a kitchen?!
.       You must-a all-a leave-a now!
.       You are all-a in the way.  

JULIA   This place is such a madhouse!

ANDRÉ   (calling out)  Where are my ingredients?!       18

(SOUS CHEF and ALICE enter, fighting to hold the tray.)

ALICE   Are these them?  I can help.  I can take it.

SOUS    Let-a go!  Give it to-a me!

(ALICE carefully lets go with a smug smile and shrugs.
SOUS CHEF brings the tray to CHEF ANDRÉ.  VAL quickly
enters to see that CHEF ANDRÉ gets his ingredients.)

SOUS    Val says-a that you ask for-a these out here?
.       But-a why?  Why-a not in-a kitchen?

ANDRÉ   Sadly, it was a test.  A lame attempt to test.
.       To see if Val, ‘ere, was able to bring me
.       z’e correct ingredients d’at I ask for.
.       Z’e dry ingredients d’at you should already know,
.       without any such difficulty.  But, let me see.

(ALL watch wide-eyed with concern as CHEF ANDRÉ uses
a fingertip to taste-test the ingredients from each
container.  He comes to the third one marked “flour.”)

ANDRÉ   D’es one – is incorrect.  It should be flour,
.       instead it is baking soda.

VAL     But- but - I was careful- I couldn’t have -
.       Ahhhh, JULIA!  She took the tray from me
.       when I was called into the kitchen.

JULIA   But – then Clara-Lynn dragged me in there,
.       and she - took the tray away from me.

C.L.    No-no-no – okay, yes, except then, the sous chef
.       chased us out.  The sous chef then had the tray.

SOUS    But’a not before-a Alice had it.  

ANDRÉ   So now I know – I cannot trust anybody.

VAL     Sadly, I will admit to ignorance.
.       I have no idea what goes into a soufflé.
.       But I will not admit to sabotaging anything!

ALICE   Don’t look at me.  Well, I will admit,      19
.       I do occasionally pull off a prank or two.
.       But I definitely know where to draw the line.

JULIA   Or you have crossed the line,
.       and you’ve just never been caught.  Yet.

C.L.    Well I certainly wouldn’t trust this one
.       as far as I could throw her.  (motions to JULIA)
.       Now if ya’all just listen to me-

JULIA   You just love to control everything, don’t you?

ANDRÉ   (motioning to SOUS)  D’is sounds like
.       somebody else I know.

SOUS    That is-a crazy, no?  

ANDRÉ   Again!  I trust nobody.

J.P.    Except for moi!  I am only your greatest fan.

ANDRÉ   You are my greatest fan.  Perhaps so much,
.       it is a little crazy! Yes?  But – d’ere you go.
.       Now, time for me to create my signature dish.
.       So I expect no more funny-play.  Okay?
.       Val, perhaps I trust you to bring me
.       all of z’e ramekins such as d’at on z’e table.

VAL     What?  Rama-what?

J.P.    Ram-e-kins – ramekins! d’ese little serving dishes!

(JEAN PIERRE picks up a dish and waves it in VAL’S face.  
VAL takes it to study then exits with it.
CHEF ANDRÉ exits while shaking his head.  ALICE goes
into a corner, and pulls out a little notebook to study.)

SOUS    Well!  And I will-a be going to – ah – finish -
.       what I need to – ah - do.

C.L.    WHAT do you do?

SOUS    I make-a something.  But – ugh – what is it?
.       None of your-a business?

(SOUS exits.  CLARA-LYNN turns to JOHN PIERRE.)     20

C.L.    What was THAT all about?

JULIA   (to C.L.)  You sure have a way, don’t you?

C.L.    And you’ll find that it’s the only way.

JULIA   So it’s only your way or the highway?

C.L.    You must see that I’m always right.

JULIA   And I bet you’d do just about anything to prove it.

C.L.    What are you implying?

JULIA   I’m not implying anything.
.       I’m outright accusing you-
.         (notices ALICE off in a corner slyly studying
.          a little notebook and checking something off)
.       (to ALICE)  Hey!  What do you have there?
.         (ALICE quickly closes the notebook
.          and hides it behind his back)
.       I saw something.  What is it?

(ALICE turns around to secretly slip the notebook
into a pocket or bag.  JULIA starts to approach, so ALICE
quickly shows empty hands and exits while exclaiming...)

ALICE   Nothing.  I’ve got nothing.  I’ve got work to do.

JULIA   (to C.L. & J.P.)  Well, that was weird and
.       suspicious.  What do you think, Jean Pierre?

J.P.    (absorbed in his notes)  Ah, huh?

JULIA   Why do I even try?

(JEAN PIERRE suddenly swings his attention to JULIA.)

J.P.    H’okay!  I ‘ave some time right now.
.       You ‘ave my full attention!

JULIA   I do?

J.P.    Yes, please, converse!
.                                                      21
JULIA   Ahhh-

J.P.    What?

JULIA   Well, ahhhh...

J.P.    D’at is it?

JULIA   I don’t know what to say.

J.P.    But you want my attention.  Please... go on.

JULIA   Well, not like this.  Soooo awkward.

J.P.    You know I give you attention.  But
.       when I work- I give my attention to z’e work.
.       Because d’at is why d-ey pay me z’e money.

JULIA   I understand.  But, you are always working.

J.P.    “Always!”  Is such a big word.

JULIA   Fine!  Then – “USUALLY” - you’re usually at work.

J.P.    Because – how you say – I save up lots of money
.       to bring you to special places.  And perhaps –
.       buy you something – very, very special.

JULIA   (hopefully)  Really?  (realizing)  Really?

(CLARA-LYNN sighs/grunts loudly with disgust and feigns
a slow heart attack.)

J.P.    Maman, are you in trouble?  What is d’is?
.       Another pretend heart attack.

(CHEF ANDRÉ rushes in screaming and holding the
serving dish with potholders – like it is still very hot.
SOUS, VAL and ALICE all rush in after him with concern.
As CLARA-LYNN hears the screaming, she freezes in shock,
then gasps and staggers as if she is having a rea attack.  
JEAN PIERRE catches her and lets her catch her breath.)
CHEF ANDRÉ sets the serving bowl down on the table ever
so gently as if very fragile, then begins to grieve.)

ANDRÉ   It is dead.  DEAD!!!  It happened again!?    22
.       Why? Why is my soufflé dead?  My life is h’over.

C.L.    (now revived with a fit of anger)
.       Well, my life certainly was almost over.
.       You practically gave me a heart attack for real.
.       Seriously, young man, it’s only a soufflé.
.       This entire fuss is just all about a soufflé?
.       It’s just a soufflé!

ANDRÉ   Just – a – soufflé.  

(SOUS CHEF throws down his dishtowel, spreads his hands,
then crosses his arms.  Enough said.)

JULIA   Well, I am so sorry for the death of
.       the soufflé, BUT - there is more to life
.       than soufflés and work.  Now, everyone,
.       you all just interrupted something
.       REALLY important here.  Jean Pierre
.       was just about to propose marriage to me.

ALL     Whaaaat?

J.P.    WHAT?! No!

JULIA   No?  But- then - I misunderstood.  Oh well...
.       (tries to laugh it off)  Never mind.
.       (now looks mortified)  Sooooo awkward.

ANDRÉ   I am completely devastated.

JULIA   As am I.

J.P.    We will figure d’is out.  Yes?

JULIA   I may need a few days.

J.P.    I am right now talking about z’e soufflé sabotage.

JULIA   Ooooof course you are.

J.P.    Now, please- ah-

(JEAN PIERRE looks around at the guests, and claps
his hands for full attention.)
.                                                   23
J.P.    EVERYBODY!  Everybody ‘ere is a witness.  Yes?
.       Sorry to disturb your meals, but,
.       perhaps someone, one of you out d’ere,
.       saw something d’at can help solve d’is mystery.
.       Or perhaps one of you is a suspect?
.       I don’t know.  But while you are eating,
.       feel free to question my staff, and od’ers;
.       and discuss what might have gone wrong.
.       I would appreciate any help.  Any help at all.
.       Perhaps you can t’ink of somet’ing – like –
.       how do you say – clues.  But, whatever it takes,
.       yes?  We will get to z’e bottom of d’is– crime!
.       This - horrible, tragic death – of z’e soufflé.

SOUS    Ah, should we no serve-a the main course?

J.P.    Ah yes.  Z’e third course!  Forgive me.
.       I am so distraught.  Z’e main course,
.       minus z’e soufflé, will be served to you now.
.       Please, I ‘ope you may still enjoy.  Bon appetite.

.                     MAIN COURSE

(Kitchen help and ALICE serve the main course.
ALICE suddenly holds a hand to his eye, blinking,
and acting like he cannot see where he’s going,
while exclaiming loudly...)

ALICE   Oh-oh.  I believe I’ve gone and lost
.       my contact lens.  Seriously, listen up, all.
.       I just lost my contact lens.  It may have
.       plopped right down into your food-

(JEAN PIERRE has been walking around checking in with
the guests when he hears ALICE’S antics and rushes over.)

J.P.    No-no-no!  Please, ladies and gentlemen,
.       I am most sure d’is did not happen.
.       Please ignore d’is.

ALICE   No, no!  I’m not messing around this time.
.       But have no fear, they’re SOFT contacts
.       so it won’t hurt a bit if you bite into it,
.       and probably will not have any bad taste at all.

J.P.    Seriously, d’is is so wrong.  Alice, ‘ere,   24
.       he does not wear any contact lenses.  H-okay?
.       So – no problem.  D’ere is no problem.
.       Merci beaucoup – please, continue eating.
.       Yes?  Enjoy.  (to ALICE)  You!  Get going.

ALICE   I – I can’t see.

J.P.    No.  Stop.  Stop d’is at once.
.       You keep saying you know when to stop.

(If a guest has not pointed it out yet,
JULIA can jump in here and say...)

JULIA   Alice has some sort of notebook.

J.P.    What?  Where?

(Either from prompting from guests, or seeing
a portion of it sticking out, JEAN PIERRE pulls
the notebook from out of ALICE’S pocket/bag.)

J.P.    What is d’is? Eh?

(JULIA takes it from J.P. and begins to read it.)

JULIA   Oh, why, listen here.  Alice has a whole bunch
.       of pranks all listed.  And some of them have
.       a checkmark beside them.  Like this one:
.       candy-bugs in the appetizers.  Oh, and this one
.       here: string licorice or spaghetti in the salad.
.       Aaahhhh, and lookie here:  pretend contact lens
.       has fallen out.  Hm!  If you don’t believe me,
.       take a look for yourself!  See?

J.P.    Please, I am busy with our guests.

(JULIA gasps, then turns to the guests to show them
the notebook and its contents.)

JULIA   Here, anyone?  I found a possible clue.  Let us
.       call it Exhibit A:  Alice’s notebook of pranks.

(JULIA walks around with the notebook to show guests.
Later she places it onto table as evidence.)

.                        ACT 4                      25

(Once main course has been served and guests have eaten,
JEAN PIERRE claps his hands to have VAL, ALICE, JULIA,
CLARA-LYNN and kitchen help collect the plates.  
ALL make comments to the guests, like...)

JULIA   You will all back me up, right?  I am innocent.

C.L.    Of course, you know I did not do anything.
.       But I simply cannot trust that little woman right
.       over there– pretending to be my son’s girlfriend.

VAL     Look, you know Alice is good for it.
.       Seriously, I mean, who else could it be?

ALICE   I say it could be any one of us.  Except for me,
.       of course.  I mean, what possible motive
.       could I possibly have, eh?  Now, if you ask me,
.       the sous chef has a motive to take over.
.       And then there’s the chef himself.  Maybe the
.       pressure’s just getting to him.  
.       Julia is smart, but seemingly wishy-washy.
.       And don’t get me started on Miss Clara-Lynn.
.       She would love to run the world if you let her.
.       Jean Pierre himself?  I don’t know.
.       I’ve never quite thought about that one.
.       He’d have to have turned loony, he would.

(When everything has been cleared, JEAN PIERRE
claps his hands for attention.  CHEF ANDRÉ enters
and stands next to him, dabbing slightly at his eyes.
SOUS CHEF, ALICE and VAL line up.  JEAN PIERRE looks
at JULIA and CLARA-LYNN who leer at each other.)

J.P.    Now, we still ‘ave to get dessert served,
.       but perhaps now is z’e time to figure d’is out.
.       Yes?  Before anyt’ing more can ‘appen.
.       Anybody find a clue somewhere?

(If a guest suggests it or not... JULIA steps forward.)

JULIA   Remember I found Exhibit A: Alice’s notebook
.       of pranks.

J.P.    Let me see d’at again?
.                                                      26
(JULIA brings the notebook over to JEAN PIERRE.)

J.P.    (opens notebook)  Let me see.  H-okay.
.       Candy-bugs in z’e appetizers.  
.       Licorice strings or spaghetti in z’e salad.
.       Pretend to lose a contact lens.
.       What?  Mouse footprints and chocolate droppings
.       in z’e pudding?  and/or bite marks
.       in z‘e cheesecake using a teaspoon?
.       (looking up)  You t’ink d’is is very clever?

(ALICE stifles laughing, trying to be serious.)

ALICE   But take note, I did not include any sort
.       of prank having do with any sort of soufflé.

(JEAN PIERRE flips through the notebook.)

J.P.    You are correct in d’at.
.       D’ere is nothing in ‘ere to do with soufflés.

JULIA   Just trying to help, but he would have been
.       very smart not to include that.  

C.L.    I feel this little woman here is trying
.       far too hard to be helpful.

J.P.    (looks to guests)  Did anybody else find
.       any od’er clues?

(If a guest suggests it or not, JEAN PIERRE says...)

J.P.    Chef André, are you certain d’at nobody
.       sabotaged your recipe some’ow?

ANDRÉ   What do you mean?

(If a guest suggests the cookbook, or not...)

J.P.    André, 'ow about your cookbook?

(ANDRÉ brings the cookbook to JEAN PIERRE.  The cookbook
is dog-eared or has a very obvious marker to bring one
to the proper page of the soufflé recipe.)

J.P.    H-okay, ‘ere is z’e soufflé recipe.  And-    27
.       (looking very closely)  What is d’is?

ANDRÉ   D’oze are z’e number seven.

J.P.    But, it looks handwritten.  No?

(ANDRÉ takes a closer look.)

ANDRÉ   Oui, it does.  Who did d’is?

J.P.    I do not know.  ‘ow does one figure d’is out?
.       Who has been looking in d’is cookbook?

(Whether or not a guest comes up with an answer,
JULIA and CLARA-LYNN start to talk at once.)

JULIA   I saw the sous chef studying it
.       and taking notes.  And then Val, and Alice,
.       and of course Clara Lynn.

C.L.    Julia was there looking at it, as well.
.       And Alice was definitely checking it out.

J.P.    All right, so everybody looked at z’e cookbook.
.       Why?  Sous Chef?  What was z’e purpose
.       of looking at z’e cookbook?  

SOUS    Sì, I am a chef, it is-a what I do.  I was-a
.       looking to see what was-a to be in-a salad.

J.P.    (nodding unsure, turning to VAL)  Val?
.       What purpose did you have to look
.       at z’e cookbook?

VAL     I just wanted to see how hard it would be
.       to make a soufflé.  That’s all.

J.P.    Alice, no need to explain d’at you like
.       to play pranks.  But what possible excuse
.       could you possibly ‘ave to look at z’e cookbook?

ALICE   I just wanted to see what Val was looking at.

J.P.    (turning to C.L.)  Maman?

C.L.    Honey child, my darling son,                 28
.       I just wanted to compare my soufflé recipe
.       with the one that the great Chef André uses.
.       No more than that.

J.P.    Julia?

JULIA   I- 1 was just bored!  It was just there.
.       So I was leafing through the pages.
.       Because someone, meaning you, was ignoring me.

ANDRÉ   So everybody ‘as an excuse to look
.       into my cookbook.

J.P.    D’is all proves nothing.
.       D’en, ‘ow can we figure d’is out?

(If a guest suggests it or not...)

ANDRÉ   What if they all write out z’e numbers?

J.P.    Excellent idea.  ‘ere is some paper and pen.
.       Everybody will write out numbers 1 to 9,
.       wit’ your name.

(SOUS CHEF, VAL, ALICE, CLARA-LYNN and then JULIA
all take turns writing out the numbers.  
One by one, J.P. displays them on the table beside
the cookbook which is opened up at the soufflé recipe.)

J.P.    But, we run out of time – for now.
.       D’ere is still dessert to be served.
.       Our guests are still ‘ungry, yes?
.       But during z’e time d’at you eat,
.       z’e guests are welcome to come ‘ere,
.       examine z’e handwriting of z’e numbers –
.       to compare.  I am no expert,
.       but perhaps someone out d’ere
.       is very good at d’is.  And d’en,
.       if you ‘ave a suspect in mind,
.       please, wait until after dessert.
.       We do not want to rush into
.       any rash conclusions.  Yes?  Thank you.
.       And now – dessert.
.       Let’s go.  Eh?

.                      DESSERT                       29

(Kitchen help, ALICE, CLARA-LYNN and JULIA serve dessert,
while JEAN PIERRE walks around checking in with guests.  
Unless a guest notices, JEAN PIERRE sees the little
mouse footprints and chocolate droppings
[and/or the bite marks] in the desserts...
ALICE rushes over.)

J.P.    What is d’is?  I know what d’is is!  ALICE!

ALICE   Sorry!  Sorry!  Really I am.  I had done this
.       long before the death of the soufflé.
.       Can you forgive me?

J.P.    Look at d’is, d’ere is no way to retrieve
.       what you ‘ave done.  Attention, guests,
.       please, I am so sorry.  Ignore what you see
.       on z’e desserts.  This is completely
.       unacceptable.  I- I just have no more
.       fight left wit’in me.  This is so miserable.
.       (to GUEST)  So sorry, yes?  Is this still
.       fine to eat for you?  Do you want I take it away?
.       It is not real mouse footprints you know?
.       (and/or)  Z’e tooth marks were made wit’ a spoon.
.       H’okay.  Again, so sorry.

.                        CONCLUSION

(Once dessert has been served and guests have eaten,
JEAN PIERRE claps his hands to have VAL, ALICE, JULIA,
CLARA-LYNN and kitchen help collect the plates.
ALL continue to make comments like before,
defending themselves, or casting doubt on others.  
Then once everyone is finished dessert,
JEAN PIERRE claps his hands again, and everyone lines up
as they were in the last scene.  CHEF ANDRÉ studies
the handwriting while J.P. speaks...)

J.P.    Well, if anybody has insight as to who is
.       guilty of sabotaging z’e soufflé, please,
.       speak up now.

(If a guest suggests it or not, CHEF ANDRÉ
comes forward with a piece of paper.)

ANDRÉ   Z’e person guilty is with d’is writing.      30
.       But d’ere is no name on it.
.       (gives the paper to JEAN PIERRE)

J.P.    So, it is simple d’en, we give z’e papers
.       all back to z’e ones who wrote z’e names down.
.       Z’e person left without any paper –
.       is z’e saboteur.


OPTION ENDING 1:  

(J.P. gives papers back to everyone one by one.
The person left without a paper is JULIA.)

J.P.    Julia?

JULIA   Now just a minute.  I just forgot to write
.       my name down, is all.  How in the world
.       can that make me guilty?

J.P.    Because, you were z’e only person
.       to use an European seven – just like
.       in z’e cookbook.

C.L.    You just love to showoff how you were
.       schooled in Europe, don’t ya?

J.P.    But why, Julia?  Why would you do d’is?

JULIA   (turning on the fake tears)
.       You were ignoring me.  And - I just -
.       did not know what to do.  I felt so alone –
.       and ignored - hopeless and – desperate.

C.L.    Oh please.  You’re not going win any award
.       for acting here.

JULIA   Fine!  JEAN PIERRE was ignoring me,
.       and his work got all the attention.
.       I was angry!  I – wanted the attention.
.       And yes!  I am self-absorbed!
.       I thought maybe, if this stupid soufflé
.       would keep failing, then – there would be
.       less people coming here, so therefore less work.
.       But no, it just made him work - more and more.
.                                                  31
ANDRÉ   But ‘ow did you do it z’e other times?

JULIA   I would sneak into the kitchen and put
.       baking soda into the four container.

VAL     So you were framing me?

C.L.    But you say you care for my son?

JULIA   Everything was becoming so predictable,
.       so by now, I just wanted revenge.
.       Well, there you go.  So sorry, everyone.

(JULIA’s glib expression suddenly breaks into sobbing.
CLARA-LYNN rolls her eys.)

C.L.    Again, you’re not going to win any awards,
.       here.

JULIA   Alight-alright.

J.P.    I cannot begin to say how sorry I am.
.       Please, just get her out of my sight.
.       (to GUESTS)  I am so sorry d’at you had
.       to witness all of d’is.  I ‘ope you still had
.       a somewhat enjoyable evening.  Yes?
.       T’ank you.  T’ank you very much for coming.
.       I ‘ope to see you come back soon again.

OPTION ENDING 2:  

(J.P. gives papers back to everyone one by one.
The person left without a paper is VAL.)

ANDRÉ   Val!  Why did you do d’ese, Val?

VAL     Is it really such a surprise?
.       You have never taken me seriously.
.       All I have ever wanted is to learn from the best.
.       Maybe I’m just not cut out to be a great chef.
.       Or any other sort of food-prep-type-person.
.       But I was just tired of me being the only one
.       making mistakes.  So I thought maybe if a great
.       chef, like Chef André, could make some mistakes,
.       then I would not look like such a loser.
.                                                    32
JULIA   You are the only one ‘ere
.       who has never been to Europe.
.       So, why do you use European sevens?

VAL     I was homeschooled.  My mom is French.

J.P.    I ‘ave ‘eard enough.  D’is is just so     
.       disappointing.  But please, take him away.
.       (to GUESTS)  I am so sorry d’at you had
.       to witness all of d’is.  I ‘ope you still had
.       a somewhat enjoyable evening.  Yes?
.       T’ank you.  T’ank you very much for coming.
.       I ‘ope to see you come back soon again.