Soft Cheese

A play for two actors.

Act 1

A rustic village in Normandy. Candide, a recent émigré from the big city, has become quite fond of the rural lifestyle.

Candide enters the local cheese shop. Gaute, the store owner, looks up at the sound of the bell.

Gaute
Good morning, Candide! It’s so nice to welcome you again to my humble realm.
Candide
I inspected my garden this morning and some wonderful champignons matured nicely. Last week I ate mushrooms with Vieuxchatêl as per your suggestion, but I’m looking for a different type of local soft cheese today. Do you have any recommendations?
Gaute
Certainly, a new cheesemaker opened up shop in this area recently! They call it La Vache Qui Pleure. Would you like to sample some?
Candide
No thanks Gaute, that’s alright. Your judgment in these matters has been absolutely impeccable in these past few months, and whatever you recommend is always a culinary delight.
Gaute
Very well! That’ll be €3 please.
Candide
Here you are. Thank you so much!

Candide exits the store.

Act 2

The next morning, an angry Candide rushes into the store. The bell jingles violently.

Candide
Why didn’t you tell me this was processed cheese?! Why did you lie to me?
Gaute
Lied? But monsieur Candide, this is locally produced soft cheese, just like you asked for.
Candide
I don’t care if it’s technically soft and produced locally. You knew very well I wanted a real local cheese and you gave me this mass-produced junk.
Gaute
But the product I sold you already had artificial penicillium camemberti flavor added to it!
Candide
Artificial fungus flavor? Are you insane? You lied to me.
Gaute
You will quit making these libelous remarks! And besides, the cheese was never truly without fungus. You could have sprinkled some fungus on it yourself and it might’ve taken to the cheese.
Candide
You’re insane. This is no proper cheese.
Gaute
Sir, I will take you to court for libel and slander.
Candide
Do your worst. The truth is plain for all to see.

Act 3

A courtroom. Candide is down on his knees in front of a judge in court dress with his eyes toward the ground.

Judge
Are you Candide, the man who libeled against Gaute the cheese store owner?
Candide
I am Candide, but I did not libel against Gaute. He promised me a local soft cheese and he gave me mass-produced processed cheese.
Judge
But it was a local product. Your libelous lies make a mockery of this court.

Candide finally looks up at the judge. His face changes into a shocked expression of understanding.

Candide
You!
Gaute
In a small rural village such as this, I have to take on the role of judge, jury, and sometimes executioner.
Candide
This is a travesty of justice!
Gaute
The accused shall not yell in court.
Candide
You did not sell me proper cheese!
Gaute
The defendant is found guilty of libel. Gaute did sell cheese.
Candide
But proper cheese does not contain emulsifiers! It has the right fungus growing on the outside! It does not stay good for weeks while unrefrigerated!
Gaute
The defendant is also found guilty of trolling.
Candide
You cannot be serious. Until this very week you never sold me cheese with such artificial properties and additives. You sold me real cheese.
Gaute
The court finds itself obliged to forgive you for your ignorance of what is technically allowed to qualify as cheese. But by insisting on your own definition of this so-called proper cheese, you have proved yourself guilty of conceitedness. Bailiff, this man shall hang for the crime of being full of himself. Prepare the gallows.

Fade to black.

1 Comment

  1. Candide naturally refers to the famous satire by Voltaire. That should tell you a thing or two. Act 3 pays homage to Max Havelaar. The context can be found here, for a few more days.

    February 24, 2014 @ 15:44Permalink
    Frans

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