The Physicist in the Monkey Suit
A Short Play by Liz Schneidewin
It is sometime in the mid-sixties. We see a room with a chalk board, a brief case and three chairs. Pacing around the room is a Gorilla. The Gorilla is waiting, looking nervous. * ‘New applicant interviews today.’ is written on the board.
*(I suppose, if you really wanted to, you could have the Gorilla smoking a cigarette as it paces around. I can see how that would be funny, but I really don’t like smoking personally. It’s up to you)
Three women dressed as men (femen) with drawn-on moustaches enter the room saying ‘Important Things’ to each other.
FEMAN 1: Important things.
FEMAN 2: Important things.
FEMAN 3: Oh, yes. I agree completely. Very important. Ahem.
They look up and see the Gorilla.
FEMAN 1: Who’s that?
FEMAN 2: Who’s what?
FEMAN 3: Where?
FEMAN 1: Over there.
They all look towards the Gorilla. The Gorilla stops pacing and takes a more natural ‘Gorilla-like’ stance and says:
FMAN2: It looks like a gorilla.
FMAN3: Yes, it rather does, doesn’t it?
FMAN1: But what’s it doing here?
The Gorilla points to the group of femen meaningfully.
GORILLA: Ooff, oof, oof.
FEMAN 3: It’s pointing at us.
FEMAN 1: You know, I believe you’re right.
FEMAN 2: Perhaps it wants something.
The Gorilla moves over to the board and taps it.
FEMAN 1: Rather odd behaviour, don’t you think?
FEMAN 3: For a gorilla.
FEMAN 2: Yes, yes. For a gorilla, obviously. Meant to say…
FEMAN 1: Obviously.
FEMAN 3: Very odd, Yes. Yes.
The Gorilla, standing at the board, hits it again.
GORILLA: Ooof. Oooof.
FEMAN 3: Yyyyyes. It definitely wants something.
FEMAN 2: Quite. Quite.
FEMAN 1: Rather insistent on it, it seems, whatever it is.
FEMAN 3: Perhaps a banana or a slice of apple?
FEMAN 2: Something along those lines, yes.
The Gorilla hangs its head in disappointment and frustration and hits the board one more time, deliberately stating and pointing.
GORILLA: Ooof! Oooof!
FEMAN 2: Something about, Oooof?
FEMAN 3: His word for banana, I expect…
FEMAN 1: Ah, of course.
FEMAN 1 starts absentmindedly patting himself down in search of a banana. His search is,
of course, unsuccessful.
FEMAN 2: Any luck?
FEMAN 3: Rather low on fruit today, I’m afraid, old chap.
FEMAN 1: Might have one in my spare jacket. Shall I take a look?
FEMAN 2: Oh, yes. Probably should.
FEMAN 3: Yes, I think that would be the ticket. Best not to anger it if at all possible.
FEMAN 1 starts to move off. The Gorilla, jumps up and down, ‘Ooofs’ in frustration and realises that it is not getting the message through. It grabs some of the chalk by the blackboard and starts to write something on the board.
FEMAN 1: What’s it doing now?
They watch. The Gorilla writes. It is a mathematical equation.
FEMAN 3: Seems to be writing something?
FEMAN 2: Never seen a Gorilla write anything before, have you?
FEMAN 1: Nnno. No. Not a Gorilla. Monkeys, perhaps.
FEMAN 2: Chimpanzees, yes, yes.
FEMAN 1: But never a Gorilla.
FEMAN 3: Very unusual behaviour.
The Gorilla continues to write its equation.
FEMAN 2: Something, I don’t know, familiar about it, don’t you think?
FEMAN 1: Seen it before?
FEMAN 3: Something like it….
The Gorilla finishes writing its equation.
FEMAN 2: Ah, I see.
FEMAN 3: Yes, yes.
FEMAN 1: Is that the relativistic total energy for a particle with zero rest mass?
FEMAN 2: Derived from Shrodinger’s Equation I should think.
FEMAN 3: Yes, it is fairly derivative.
FEMAN 2: Rudimentary.
FEMAN 1: Clearly single dimension.
FEMAN 3: Yes, yes.
They stand there nodding their heads together thoughtfully for a moment.
FEMAN 1: Rather good for a monkey, though. You must admit.
FEMAN 2: Gorilla. Oh, yes, yes. Indeed.
FEMAN 3: Quite advanced, really, when you think about it.
FEMAN 2: I suppose it is, yes.
They stand there nodding again.
FEMAN 1: Where did he learn it, do you suppose?
FEMAN 2: Learn what?
FEMAN 1: Classical electrodynamics.
FEMAN 2: Harvard probably, they’ll take anyone these days.
The Gorilla trundles to the briefcase and pulls out a folder which it hands to FEMAN 1. FEMAN 1 Opens it and reads.
FEMAN 1: Princeton, apparently.
FEMAN 2: Princeton? Really. I’m surprised they would take, ahem (under his breath) that sort.
The others cough and mumble their agreement with this sentiment.
FEMAN 3: Still… a Princeton man is a Princeton man.
FEMAN 2: Quite right.
FEMAN 3: (meaningfully) Better than that one we had earlier.
FEMAN: You mean the one from Vassar? Oh, indeed.
FEMAN 2: Much better than…
FEMAN 1: That other person, yes. The woman.
FEMAN 3: Ridiculous. Can’t have that.
FEMAN 2: Certainly not.
FEMAN 2: They’ve got those… um… Fuller, You’re married. What are those things that wife of yours has?
FEMAN 1: Headaches?
FEMAN 2: No. No. The other things. The nice ones. Stick out in front.
FEMAN 3: Faces?
FEMAN 2: No. Breasts. Yes. That’s it. Breasts. They’ve got those breasts, haven’t they? Can’t have that.
FEMAN 1: No, not around here. Get in the way.
FEMAN 2: Absolutely. Shocking waste of time. Get nothing done. Staring at them all day.
FEMAN 3: That’s if they’re any good. You do get the ugly ones, of course. They’re not so much of a distraction.
FEMAN 1: Yes, but even they seem to get pregnant and pack it all in eventually. No stamina these women. Nice to look at, some of them but, let’s be honest. Waste of time in the end.
FEMAN 1: No denying it. They’re all much happier at home, sewing things or whatever they do. Mine is. (Looks at the folder again) This fellow’s Suma Cum Laude by the looks of things. Letter of recommendation from Feynman himself.
FEMAN 2: Isn’t he at CalTech?
FEMAN 1: Seems he did a semester’s exchange there. On scholarship.
FEMAN 2: Oh, and according to Feynman, he’s got a name. Apparently he likes to be called Bongoes.
FEMAN 2: Good name.
FEMAN 1: Solid.
FEMAN 3: Impressive.
FEMAN 2: Yes.
FEMAN 3: Well, chaps. I think we have our new man.
FEMAN 2: What, him?
FEMAN 1: He’s got the qualifications.
FEMAN 2: I suppose so.
FEMAN 3: Good recommendations.
FEMAN 2: Yes. Yes.
FEMAN 1: Seems housetrained too.
FEMAN 2: Always a bonus!
The femen laugh at how hilarious they are.
FEMAN 3: You don’t suppose…
FEMAN 2: What is it?
FEMAN 3: I mean we’re sure it is?
FEMAN 1: A what? A physicist.
FEMAN 3: A he?
The femen freeze and turn as one in uncertain enquiry towards the patiently waiting Gorilla. They stare at it expectantly. It shrugs and scratches itself on the crotch.
FEMAN 1: Well. There you are then.
FEMAN 2: Nothing to worry about.
FEMAN 3: What a relief.
FEMAN 2: I’ll say.
FEMAN 1: (To the Gorilla) Congratulations then, um… Mr
FEMAN 3: Bongoes.
FEMAN 1: Yes, Bongoes. That’s the one. Good man. We’ll be in touch.
The three femen offer their congratulations to the Gorilla and to themselves as they all file out of the room, leaving the Gorilla alone.
The Gorilla removes the head from her costume, wipes her forehead then straightens the sleeves of her blouse under the costume. Then she [sighs] loudly, sends a defiant look to the audience, daring them to judge her for doing what she needs to do to get by in this world, then puts the Gorilla head back on again.