When a casualty is required

Since it’s raining AGAIN, I’ve been ploughing on with the draft of my feature. The one with the protagonist who needed a kick up the arse. But, I’ve been mulling things over in my head, and I’ve realised that it’s not just that the protag. is too passive, but the plot lacks a true casualty. I’m not talking about the antagonist getting his comeuppance (as that’s hopefully going to look like natural justice when it happens, so not strictly a casualty). I mean, like say in ‘Calendar Girls’ (if you’re the one person living under a toadstool who hasn’t seen it, the following contains a spoiler), when you ask someone what that film is about, they’ll usually refer to the fun nudity for the calendar, the cakes, the WI, the friendships and the women. What they don’t often mention, is the ‘casualty’ : in this case, the cancer diagnosis and subsequent death of the husband of one of the main characters.

I’m writing a light-hearted drama, but suddenly realised that it lacks depth. It lacks a ‘casualty’ – someone who, however peripheral, has to suffer or have their true desires rebuffed or snuffed out, to balance out the light-heartedness.

Even in the ‘Carry-On’ films, there’s always a casualty. Hattie Jacques’ characters leap to mind. She may be in control (as say, the matron), intelligent and respected, but her TRUE desire is to get it on with her true love – usually Kenneth Williams doing his ‘ooh I knowwwwww’ thing. There’s a sort of pathos to her, an ache even, amidst the hilarity and double entendres, because she rarely gets what she wants. Characters and yes, performances, like hers give the froth depth – least it does in the better-quality Carry On’s.

I need to find my Hattie Jacques.

I’ve also realised that quite unwittingly, there are 2 symbols that keep reappearing in the script – hands and roses. I have a feeling it’s going to go a lot darker than I expected…


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