Part 14 - Cornelius

by Jane And Mark Lewis
Copyright © 2011 Jane And Mark Lewis. Email:



Capernaum Street grew out of our desire to write our own "soap opera"-style series of sketches which would be based on a UK soap opera (in order to feel familiar and engage people) and have cliff-hanger endings (to encourage people to come back for "next week's exciting episode").

Then one of the series we were doing in our Family Services was on the life of Peter. As Peter was a "Northerner" (as far as those in Judea were concerned) we decided to write a series tenuously based on Coronation Street. As Peter lived in Capernaum, the title of Capernaum Street wasn't too difficult to come up with! We were then faced with the constraints familiar to many church drama groups - a lack of resources and a Hollywood special effects budget. These seem necessary given the miracles Peter witnessed. Then we had the idea - what if Peter "came home from work", as it were, from his "day job" as a disciple of Jesus to relay all his experiences to his wife Elizabeth (OK we made up the Elizabeth bit but we know Peter had a wife because he had a mother-in-law - see Mark 1:30). This would mean only two people were required and no special effects!

Capernaum Street was born and the format has remained (more or less) the same ever since. Each episode Peter returns from his day with Jesus to recount everything that's happened to Elizabeth in an "up-North"-kitchen-sink-type-Coronation-Street style. In the later sketches (including this one), that occur after Jesus' ascension, we've slightly modified this format to adjust to Peter's new role.

This sketch was originally written to be part of a longer series to follow on from the re-written version of Part 7 - Raising Tabitha.  It proved to be a very difficult sketch to write because the whole premise of the story in Acts 10 and 11 is based on the Jewish food laws.  How could we get this across when all the cultural references in Capernaum Street are English?  So we settled on the running gag being that Peter and Elizabeth would refer to traditional English foods as if they were "weird & wacky foreign foods".  To vary the format a little we also split the sketch into to mini-parts to cover both Peter's dream and the events at Cornelius' house separately and to allow some sense of elapsed time between the two.  We should also point out that there was an epidemic of E.Coli in Germany in the news at the time relating to contaminated salad vegetables (hence the topical reference at the end of the second sketch).

Given we've broken from the normal format we've included the original first draft of the sketch for reference as this was done in the usual Peter-coming-home-from-work style. But, basically, we thought it was pretty poor hence the major re-write. But here at Potted JAM we like to share everything warts and all so we've included it in case it is useful for someone.

(Note: the Part numbers refer to the order the sketches were written in and not necessarily the order of events in Peter's life!).



  • Peter, apostle of Jesus.
  • Elizabeth, his wife.

Peter should be dressed to suggest "fisherman". (E.g. wellies, big woolly jumper, water-proof jacket, etc.)
Elizabeth is a house-proud housewife and should be wearing a house-coat, have her hair in a scarf and have a duster to wave around for emphasis.
(Note: We've always stuck with the same costumes so that the characters are recognisable though by the later sketches from Acts it doesn't really fit with the situation).


Part 1: The scene is a room in Simon the Tanner's house. Peter starts asleep in an easy chair or sofa.
Part 2: This is a telephone conversation so Peter and Elizabeth stand at opposite sides of the stage. If the easy chair/sofa is still on-stage then Elizabeth should stand near this to indicate she is still at Simon's house whilst Peter is away (in Caeserea).

We use three devices to create a consistent "look and feel" to the Capernaum Street sketches:

  • The characters are always dressed the same in every sketch (see above).
  • For each performance we project the Capernaum St. sign (illustrated above) on the data projector.
  • We use, what turned out to be, a very successful device for indicating the start and end of each sketch: the Theme Tune. We both play the first few bars of the theme tune to Coronation Street on kazoos.

Script (as performed)

Part 1

[Theme tune]
Peter:  Snoring, ummmm, make us a bacon sandwich luv, snore.
Elizabeth:  Peter wake up, wake up.
Peter:  [wakes up with a start]  What , eh, what?
Elizabeth:  Peter you were talking in your sleep.
Peter:  Was I? I was having that dream again.
Elizabeth:  Peter, I keep telling you it's not a dream, it's a nightmare. You were on about "bacon sandwiches" what if someone was to hear you?
Peter:  Liz I can't ignore it. Every time this sheet comes down with all sorts of weird foreign food that we aren’t allowed to eat. A voice says "Grub’s up Peter. Tuck in." Then I say "No surely not. Lord I would never disobey you by eating the wrong food".  Then the voice says, "don't call anything wrong that the Lord has made right".
Elizabeth:  It's just a dream Peter. I'm sure it doesn't mean anything.
Peter:  No I have a nasty feeling it does mean something.  This happened THREE times Liz.  Three is a bit of a significant number for me – remember?
Elizabeth:  Yes I know.  Well, maybe there's something significant in the foods you saw.  What did you see apart from the bacon sandwiches?
Peter:  Well weird and wacky foods, sausages, gammon steaks, roast pork, spare ribs...
Elizabeth:  That's revolting. It's all food from pigs – they're unclean.
Peter:  I know there's more. There was seafood - cockles, whelks, scampi and jellied eels!
Elizabeth:  Jellied eels. Jelly & eels, eels in Jelly? Jellied eels!! Eugh! 
Peter:  No Liz there's worse.
Elizabeth:  Worse? How could anything be worse.
Peter:   I can hardly bring myself to say.  I saw.......
Elizabeth:  Yes....
Peter:  [clearly struggling with the memory] It's too horrible.....
Elizabeth:  Oh Peter.  It’s OK.  I'm here.  You can tell me.
Peter:  I saw......  A prawn cocktail [holds his head in his hands]
Elizabeth:  Peter that's obscene! Dream or no dream, I am not having prawn in this house.
[offstage loud knocking then] Open up in the name of Caesar! We seek a man called Peter.
Elizabeth:  See now look what you've done, you've got the Romans after you!
[Theme tune]

Part 2

[Theme tune]
Elizabeth:  [to an offstage Martha] Yes so the Centurions came and took him! That's not good is it – I haven't heard from him for 3 days. [Her phone rings - the ringtone is, inevitably, the Coronation St. theme tune] Oh Sorry Martha that's the phone got to go.
[Answering phone] Hello?
Peter:  Hiya Liz. It's me.
Elizabeth:  Peter! Are you alright? Where are you?
Peter:  I'm alright Liz. I'm still in Caeserea….
Elizabeth:  Caesar's there? Are you in Rome?
Peter:  No. Caeserea – I’m in Caeserea.  Never mind. but I want to tell you all about what’s happened ...
Elizabeth:  I've been really worried.
Peter:  I know everything happened so quick.  The men who turned up were from a Roman soldier called Cornelius.
Elizabeth:  Never heard of him.
Peter:  Of course not.  But listen - you know I had that dream, well Cornelius had a dream too!
Elizabeth:  About weird food? Don't tell me he runs one of those fancy Italian restaurants!
Peter:  No in his dream an angel appeared to him and told him to send for me!
Elizabeth:  Really?  Well Peter your preaching must be improving if you have angels recommending you! Wait until I tell that Martha next door!
Peter:  Don’t be daft Liz!  Anyway… When I arrived Cornelius ushered me in and there was a roomful of people – he'd invited loads of people around. So there I was in a room of … well….foreigners….all lookin' at me!
Elizabeth:  Well what did you do?
Peter:  Well in that moment it all clicked.  My dream!
Elizabeth:  You told them your dream about jellied eels and prawn cocktails??!
Peter:  No.  Don't be soft.   I suddenly realised what it all meant.  God was telling me not to dismiss people I thought God wasn't interested in.  He loves all people everywhere – whatever they eat – and its not our job to exclude people when God wants to include them!
Elizabeth:  Oh I see.  So what did you do then?
Peter:  Can't you guess.  I told them all about Jesus! All about his life and death and resurrection and everything I've seen.  And suddenly the Holy Spirit came upon them and they all started praising God and speaking in heavenly languages.  So anyway I need to stay on as I've a few baptisms to do. 
Elizabeth:  Oh No!
Peter:  Don’t worry I'll be back soon.  [Laughing] I'll have to get used to trying out some new weird foreign foods though. Apparently we're having something called "Toad in The Hole" tonight.
Elizabeth:  Oooh that's disgusting Peter it's battered frogs legs!
Peter:  No I think it’s made with sausages!
Elizabeth:  Now you be careful, Dream or no dream you have to watch what you eat!  Have you seen the news I’m not even buying imported vegetables at the moment, let alone eating strange meats!
Peter:  Don't worry Liz – I looking forward to coming back for your home-cooking and a nice cup of tea.
[Theme Tune]

Original Draft

[Theme tune]
Peter:  Hiya Luv. I'm home!
Elizabeth:  Oh Peter! You're back at last.  I was so worried you rushed off in such a hurry I wondered what was going on.
Peter:  Well I wondered too to be honest.
Elizabeth:  Well come on then what happened in Caeserea? Who were those men that came?
Peter:  Well actually it all started before they arrived.  You see I had this dream.
Elizabeth:  A dream? What about?
Peter:  Well it was really, really weird.  I was feeling hungry – and in my dream this sheet came down and it was all full of well – foreign food.
Elizabeth:  Eugh!
Peter:  And this voice from heaven said – "Peter Grub's up. Tuck in." But I said, "No Lord that's not right I've never eaten any of that foreign muck."
Elizabeth:  Quite right.
Peter:  No. Then the voice said. Do not call anything I give you impure or unclean.  And this happened three times.
Elizabeth:  Oh dear.
Peter:  Exactly – I've got a bit of a history with three times.  Well I hadn’t had a chance to tell you all this when those blokes turned up from Caeseara asking me to go to see someone called Cornelius.
Elizabeth:  Oh right
Peter:  Well it turns out this Cornelius is a foreigner too. A Roman centurion no less.
Elizabeth:  Oh dear we've had enough of you getting in trouble with the authorities already Peter.
Peter:  No, no.  This is amazing. No an angel had appeared to him and said go and send to Joppa for a chap called Peter.
Elizabeth:  But that's you!
Peter:  I know.  So these men arrive from Cornelius and I felt the Holy Spirit say – Its OK Peter you should go with them.  So that's why we left in a hurry. Anyway we got to Caesarea and this guy Cornelius greets me by bowing down in front of me.
Elizabeth:  You?
Peter:  I know! A Roman soldier bowing down to me.  So I told him to get up straight-away obviously can’t have him doing that. But then he'd invited everyone he knows around to hear what I had to say – all his friends and family.  So there I am in the room of, well foreigners, and Cornelius tells me about the angel and why he sent for me and says – so we’re all ears what have you got to say for yourself!
Elizabeth:  No pressure then
Peter:  Well exactly.  Anyway so I thought well in for a penny in for a pound so I told them all about Jesus!  I told them everything that he did and taught, I told them all about his death and resurrection and the fact that they can be forgiven…. And well whilst I was speaking the Holy Spirit came on them all and they started speaking in heavenly languages and praising God.
Elizabeth:  What foreigners praising God!
Peter:  Exactly - then I realized y'see – that’s what that sheet was all about it was God telling me that I shouldn’t be thinking that foreigners are all impure and unclean – God loves them just the same.  We've always excluded people that don’t fit in to our way of thinking but Jesus has shown that he wants to include everyone
Elizabeth:  Oh I see. Anyway you must be starved – would you like something to eat?
Peter:  Oh I'd love a bacon butty
Elizabeth:  Bacon!! We don't eat bacon! That's…oh I see….!
Peter:  Well you know Liz – when in Rome!
Elizabeth:  This is going to take a bit of getting used to and no mistake
Peter:  I think it will – but I know it’s the right thing Liz
Elizabeth:  Well I don't know about you but I'd like...
Both: ...a nice cup of tea...
Peter:  Grand.
Elizabeth:  [smiling] I'll put the kettle on…
[Theme tune]

Copyright © 2011 Jane And Mark Lewis. Email:

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