The Words on the Page

Catastrophe

February 28, 2017

 

Catastrophe

Written by Sharon Horgan & Rob Delaney

Shooting Script - No Date

Single Camera Comedy, 32 pages

 

"Well Rob, it is Rob isn't it? Because I only met you about 20 minutes ago and now I'm pregnant with your baby so for the moment I'd like a whisper of certainty in my life. Not even in my life, in my body." - Sharon

 

The British comedy Catastrophe was a joy to read. It's an irreverent, sarcastic, anti-romance romantic comedy. The basic premise is that after a week's fling in London, Sharon and Rob go their separate ways. She returns to her life as an elementary school teacher; he returns to his job in America. When Sharon realizes she's pregnant, Rob moves to London. The two will figure it out and raise this child together. From right off the bat, everything is backwards. For example, more than a month after creating a child together, Sharon inquires as to what Rob's surname is and Rob asks her age.

 

The tone of the show remains deliciously dry and is filled with unexpected twists and turns. Even things that aren't obviously funny, like pre-cancer cells, wind up being funny. During an OB-GYN checkup (the pilot covers a lot of time - seriously, several months' worth), Sharon is diagnosed with cervical dysplasia. After over two pages of discussing how this "pre-cancer" sounds an awful lot like cancer, the scene closes with the following exchange, followed by Sharon crying:

 

Doctor: And here's something! Mummy, do you recognize that?

Sharon: Is that the cancer?

Doctor: Very funny, no, That's a little penis! Congratulations, you're going to have a baby boy!

 

Like I said, there's an irreverence in this show that gets to its comedic heart. The characters are flawed people. There isn't a single "picture perfect" relationship, but there is grittiness and a realness to the piece that ground it and give it depth. These are people who we know and, in the privacy of our own hearts, we admit that they're us. The dialogue jumps off the page, and it immediately made me want to see more of these characters. Even better, the pregnancy is not the be all and end all of the piece -- it is just a part of these characters lives.

 

Catastrophe was conceived, written, and created by its stars (whose real first names are also Sharon and Rob), which only makes its existence more amazing. This was definitely a fun read, and I plan on checking on the rest of the episodes on Amazon as I'm currently looking for a piece to spec. As of right now, this is a top contender.

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Writing for film, television, and the stage is, in my opinion, one of the most difficult - and most rewarding - art forms. The language needs to be visual and evocative as each script must achieve two important tasks...
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