A Christmas Play

– – –

Dr. Macy: a young female scientist
Dr. Terrell: the ex-chairman of the department
Charles Darwin: looking a bit like Santa
Dr. Fred Gimble: Macy’s boyfriend
Geemo: Macy’s daughter
The Recombinant DNA BioSafety Committee
Dr. Frankenstein, Dr. Vader, and the Invisible Man

(Macy is in the lab, working.)

Macy (on the phone): Yes, I know what time it is. (Pause) I’ll go home when I’m done – I mean, when she’s done. (She covers the phone and speaks to a flask full of media. ) This time it’ll work honey. I’m sure of it. (She speaks back into the phone). Listen Fred, I gotta go – if you want to go home, go ahead, but I’m staying. I’ll be done when I’m done. Talk to you later. (She hangs up, then pipettes some fluid onto a Petri plate and swirls it around and then puts it in an incubator. She then goes back to the bench and talks directly to a flask full of media.) It won’t be long now honey. I know it’s been over 30 combinations so far, but eventually one of them will work. It has to! It just has to!

Terrell (enters): Hello? Hello? It’s nearly midnight! Why are the lights on? Anybody here?

Macy: Hello Dr. Terrell. I’m here.

Terrell: Oh, hello Dr. Macy – and that’s CHAIRMAN Terrell to you!

Macy: What? I thought you stepped down from the Chair? I thought Dr. Newcomer was the Departmental Chair now.

Terrell: Oh, yes, yes, she is – that’s correct. But I am the Weekend Chairman!

Macy: The Weekend Chairman? What the heck is a Weekend Chairman?

Terrell: It’s a position I created just before I stepped down from the Normal Chairmanship. So Dr. Newcomer is, of course, the Departmental Chair – during the week. But I’m the Chairman on the Weekends.

Macy: What about holidays?

Terrell: No, just weekends.

Macy: Does Dr. Newcomer know about this?

Terrell: Is there a reason she needs to know? Maybe we should just keep this quiet. (He goes and puts his arm around her and looks at her workbench) So – what are you doing?

Macy: I’m trying to evolve a daughter.

Terrell: Excuse me?

Macy: Say hello to Weekend Chairman Terrell, honey. (She swirls the flask and holds it out toward him.)

Terrell: Dr. Macy, that is a flask full of bacteria.

Macy: Shh!! (covers the flask with her hand) Don’t be mean – she’s just a few evolutionary steps away from being human. I adopted the whole colony, and now I’m going to evolve them into a human being.

Terrell: And just how do you think you’re going to do that?

Macy: I got this “Rapid Evolve” kit from Stratagene (holds up the kit)—and I’ve mixed in some of my own DNA. Although it hasn’t been working very well yet. My 33rd attempt is in the incubator now.

Terrell: Does the Recombinant DNA Committee know about this?

Macy: Is there a reason they need to know – WEEKEND CHAIRMAN Terrell?

Terrell: Well, I guess I could look the other way – especially given the probability of success of this experiment. Look, it’s nearly midnight on Christmas Eve – maybe you should go home and try again tomorrow.

Macy: No – I’m going to make it work! You sound just like my boyfriend, Fred.

Terrell: Hmm….maybe I could be your Weekend boyfriend?

Macy: Excuse me, I have to check my experiment. (She goes to the incubator) Oh! Oh well. At least we’re getting closer. (She pulls out a giant beetle).

Terrell: Eww! Gross!

Macy: Don’t say that about my daughter!

Terrell: It’s like a dung beetle or something! You’re nuts, Macy –up here in lab all night on Christmas Eve with bacteria and dung beetles, trying to evolve a human being.

(He sings to the tune of “Carol of the Bells”: )
This will not work!
It’s really dumb!
You are insane!
Touched in the brain!

Wasting you time,
Working with slime,
It’s not just fun

Very, very, very, very looney.
Really, really, really, really kooky

Ding dong, ding dong
That is the sound
When your career
Will disappear

(He begins to exit, still singing: )
Very, very, very, very looney.
Really, really, really, really kooky

Ding dong, ding dong…..

Macy: (Speaking to the beetle as she puts it on the desk: ) Don’t listen to him, honey. We’re getting there – it’s just taking a long time. I wonder if I got the DNA samples mixed up.

Fred: (Entering) Hello Sweetheart!

Macy: Hello Fred!

Fred: (Seeing the beetle on the bench, he takes a magazine he’s been carrying and swats it. ) Whoa! Oh! Oh! Got it! Did you see the size of that thing?

Macy: (Puts her hands to her mouth and then just stares at Fred). Oh well.

Fred: Uh oh – was that one of your evolution experiments?

Macy: Yes, but it wasn’t a very good one.

Fred: Sorry sweetie. Look, if you want a child so much, why don’t we just have one the normal way?

Macy: But I want to have a daughter or a son, AND win the Nobel Prize at the same time – and this is the most efficient way to do it.

Fred: Well. I’m going to get something from my office, then I’m going home. I assume you’re staying?

(Macy nods and holds up the flask of bacteria).

Fred: Well, I’ll check back on my way out anyway, just to see how you’re doing. (He exits).

Macy: Oh, well, at least it was eukaryotic this time. (She cleans up the beetle and gets back to work making new plates)

(She sings to the tune of “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas)
It WAS …. beginning to look eukaryotic!
Instead of slimy goo.
The bacteria soon will grow, into a Jane or Joe
And all my Christmas dreams will soon come true.

It’s beginning to look eukaryotic!
Mutant DNA.
But the prettiest sight to see, is the human that she’ll be
At the end of the day.

CD: (Entering) Ho, ho, ho! Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas!

Macy: Santa Claus?

CD: (Turning around and looking) Where? Where?

Macy: Um, (pointing) right there.

CD: (Turning around again) Where? Where? I don’t see Santa Claus.

Macy: Look in a mirror buddy! You – are – Santa Claus!

CD: I’m not Santa Claus!

Macy: We’ll then who are you?

CD: I’m Charles Darwin.

Macy: Sure, and I’m a monkey’s uncle.

CD: I am. I am. I really am.

Macy: Sure pal – now why don’t you tell me who you really are and what you’re doing here before I call Security.

CD: So you were willing to believe I was Santa Claus, but you don’t believe I’m Charles Darwin?

Macy: I can only go so far. Besides, its Christmas Eve — what would Charles Darwin be doing here?

CD: (Very seriously) I show up anywhere that a great advance in evolution is about to occur.

Macy: (Mocking his intonation) Oh -oooh – hey – wait a minute – did you say a great advance in evolution is about to occur?

CD: Why don’t you continue with your experiment. I believe this will be your 34th try.

(They sing the following to the tune of Silver Bells together as Macy finishes getting the next Petri plate ready. At some point in the song Darwin sprinkles “fairy dust” on the plate. )

DNA (DNA), Chromatin (Chromatin)
It’s time to grow something special.

Mutant genes, New proteins
Soon it will be Christmas day.

Add some salt now, add some Tris now
Quick let’s check the pH
In the flask there’s
A feeling of Christmas

(They put the plate in the incubator)

Genes are bubbling, germlines doubling
Lot’s of genome repair
And on every growth plate you will hear:

DNA (DNA), Chromatin (Chromatin)
It’s time to grow something special.

Mutant genes, New proteins
Soon it will be Christmas day.

(Suddenly Geemo emerges from the incubator, stretching and yawning).

Geemo: Oh wow. (Sees Macy) Mommy?

Macy: Hello little girl.

Geemo: (runs to Macy) Mommy! Mommy!

Macy: (to CD as she hugs Geemo) Oh my gosh – is it? Is it true?

CD: (Nodding “yes” ) Oh ye of little faith!

Macy: Hello little girl. Yes, I think I am your Mommy!

Geemo: (pointing to CD) And is this my Daddy?

CD: (over-enthusiastically) No, no, no, no, not me, not me – not your Daddy, no!

Geemo: Then who are you?

CD: I’m Charles Darwin.

Macy: I really wish you’d stop saying that.

Geemo: Mommy? Who IS my Daddy?

Macy: Your father was a lower form of life, honey.

Geemo: You mean, like an undergraduate?

Macy: Even lower than that, honey. He wasn’t even eukaryotic. I’ll tell you all about it when you grow up…. more.

Fred: (running in) Macy, Macy – I tried to stop them. Put away all your reagents! (Noticing Geemo and CD) Who are these people?

Terrell and the Recombinant DNA Committee enter. The Committee members are carrying clipboards and take notes throughout.

Terrell: (To Fred) Step aside Dr. Gimble, we have to talk to Dr. Macy. Dr. Macy, in my capacity as the Weekend Chairman, I felt it necessary to notify the Recombinant DNA Biosafety Committee of your activities. Please say hello to Dr. Frankenstein, Dr. Vader, and the Invisible Man (they all shake hands and greet).

Invisible Man: As you can see, the BioSafety Committee has a lot of experience with biohazards.

(Frankenstein groans in agreement. )

Vader: (To CD) And who is this intruder?

CD: I’m Charles Darwin.

Vader: (To CD) Do not toy with me, underling.

CD: But I AM Charles Darwin!

Terrell: Okay….and I’m a monkey’s uncle. (To Macy) This does not reflect well on you. (To Geemo) And who might you be?

Geemo: I’m a newly evolved genetically modified organism. But I don’t know what my name is yet. (to Macy: ) Mommy?

Macy: I was going to call you Geemo (pronounced “Jee-moe” as in “GMO” ).

Geemo: Sounds good to me. (To Terrell, and the Committee) My name is Geemo. (She holds out her hand to shake hands but Terrell and the Committee shirk back in fear, they talk quietly but agitatedly amongst themselves during the following)

Macy: (Whispering) Geemo! Geemo, come here. Open your mouth. (Macy takes a cheek swab of Geemo). Fred, get this down to the DNA lab and get it sequenced right away. (Fred takes the swab and leaves) Hurry, sweetheart, hurry!

Terrell: Well, Dr. Macy – upon conferring with the Recombinant DNA Biosafety Committee, we find that you have neglected to file any of the proper forms for your experiments.

Invisible Man: Maybe her forms are invisible.

Vader: (to IM) Quiet Infidel!

(Frankenstein groans in agreement. )

Terrell: We’ve decided that unless you file the proper forms and can prove that this Geemo person is your actual daughter, that we are going to have to fine you 28 billion dollars for unauthorized construction of dangerous genetically modified organisms.

(They sing to the tune of “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen” )
We think your work is dangerous.
We think it should be stopped.
And if you don’t do as we say
Your research will be cropped.
We’re saving you from Satan’s power
As you have gone astray
O filings of paperwork and forms
Paper and forms
O filings of paperwork and forms

Our rules may seem quite rigid,
But we have the final say
And if your work is dangerous,
Big fines you’ll have to pay
We’re really here to help you out,
So file these forms today (they all hand her forms),
O filing of paperwork and forms
Paper and forms
O filings of paperwork and forms

CD: Excuse me! This scientist has just accomplished a major breakthrough in evolutionary research – you can’t seriously be thinking of impeding her work by bogging her down with your silly paperwork!

Terrell: Excuse me, old man –

CD: That’s Charles Darwin to you sir!

Terrell: Oh, oh, I forgot. It’s the great Charles Darwin! (He and the BioSafety Committee laugh).

CD: But I am! I am Charles Darwin!

Terrell: And I’m Linus Pauling! (Putting his arm around one of the BioSafey Committee members) And this is my good friend Albert Einstein! (They all laugh again).

(Fred runs in with Geemo’s DNA sequence)

Fred: Wait, wait! Look at this – Macy and Geemo really are mother and daughter! There’s very high DNA sequence similarity between them! Take a look!

(The Recombinant DNA Safety Committee looks over the sequence, and comes to a consensus)

Terrell: Well, well – it seems that the two of you really are related! And the interspersed bits of E. coli DNA suggest that Dr. Macy might really have evolved you from a bacterium. This is very interesting and we’ll have to consider it more carefully. This may be a very important piece of work. In the meantime, we’re going to let you continue your work.

(Macy, Fred, Geemo, and CD cheer) Hooray!!

All sing:

Add some salt now, add some Tris now
Quick let’s check the pH
In the lab there’s
A feeling of Christmas

Genes are bubbling, germlines doubling
Lot’s of genome repair
And on every growth plate you will hear:

DNA (DNA), Chromatin (Chromatin)
It’s time to grow something special.

Mutant genes, New proteins
Soon it will be Christmas day!

Macy: (to CD: ) You really must be Charles Darwin!

CD: Well, actually I’m not – I lied. I’m really Santa Claus. Ho, ho, ho – Merry Christmas!

All: Merry Christmas!!

The End.