The Show Must Not Go On

A short screenplay by Lance M. Brown



ext. Cliffside - Night

PAUL MOTZA sits in the GIANT WOODEN CUP, staring ahead, stone-faced. His wife MARIANNE stands outside the cup looking in.


No! Did you hear me?! I said NO!

She SLAPS Paul hard, but it seems to have no effect at all. She looks straight at his face, recognizing something in his eyes. Her gaze then travels down his arm to his hand, clenched tightly on a thick ROPE which hangs over the edge.

Marianne backs away from the cup, resigned. She bows her head just as Paul pulls the rope and

the latch CLICKS, the giant spring GROANS, and Paul is launched by LARGE WOODEN CATAPULT to a spectacular death.



a stack of newspapers, the front page bearing the headline: "SUICIDAL ACROBAT PERFORMS FATAL STUNT"

The photo below it shows the CATAPULT from the previous scene, lit by police spotlights.

Marianne grabs a small stack of papers and scans the story as she reaches for cash in her pocket. The NEWSPAPER MAN notices her interest.


Damnedest thing, ain't it? I remember seeing that guy at Barnum n' Bailey's when I was a kid. The, uh, flying, what were they, the flying, um-


The Flying Motza Brothers.


Yeah, that's right--that's what it was! The Flying Motza Brothers. Man, they did some amazing stuff!


I guess maybe it got to him, huh? Doing all that wild stuff? Ya think?

Marianne's face tightens.


I guess maybe so.

She turns abruptly and rushes off, flustered.

Newspaper man

Hey, you forgot your change!


(glancing back)

That's fine, you keep it. Thank you.

She quickly merges with the sidewalk crowd.

EXT. Neighborhood streets - Day

Marianne walks morosely home, deep in thought. She scans the faces of people she passes by.


Marianne is approaching her house (a compact brick house in a row of compact brick houses) when she winces and stops, her free hand clutching first her stomach, then her chest.

She begins to breath heavily as she veers toward the BUS STOP BENCH and sits down quickly. She drops the newspapers to the side and leans forward, head in hands.

Marianne begins to quake, and then

WAILS like a hundred car alarms going off at once. Then she wails like there's no tomorrow. She looks up, red-faced, bleary-eyed, make-up smeared. Sees no one. Wails a bit more.


Marianne, what are you doing out here?

MAURICE MOTZA comes down the front walk to arrive at Marianne's side.


Oh my God, look at you! You're a wreck. Come on inside. Here, put your arm around my shoulder. I've got you.

He pulls her arm around his shoulder and lifts her up.


Don't forget the papers.

He picks up the papers, and the two begin to walk to the house from the bus stop, Maurice helping Marianne.

Marianne chuckles briefly, distractedly.


Did you just laugh?


I'm fine.

(pulling away somewhat)

I think the sun just got to me or something.


Hey, it's OK to be sad, sweetie. You've just got to be careful. Someone could have mugged you easy, the state you were in.


I'd like to see them try.

She pulls ahead and enters the house.



There's my girl.

EXT. MOTZA Residence - Day

At the roadside near the bus stop, several police officers are rolling the giant catapult down off of a vehicle trailer. An officer with a clipboard and a pen approaches the house.

EXT. MOTZA Residence - Later

Vigil and memorial paraphernalia lie scattered at the foot of the catapult. Prominent among them is an old circus poster advertising The Flying Motza Brothers. Pictured on the poster are much-younger versions of (according to the poster): "Brothers Paul and Maurice Motza (and featuring Paul's lovely wife, Marianne!)"

Several PEOPLE are gathered there--some sitting, some gazing at the catapult wistfully, some chatting quietly.

KIDS are bounding around on the grass, attempting cartwheels, flips, handstands, and the like.

cut to:

INT. Motza Residence - Continuous

Marianne gazes out the front window at her husband's fans, weeping.

Her gaze settles on the playing children, where it stays for some time. Eventually, her eyes show resolve, then calculation, and finally, a steely satisfaction. She begins to smile.

INT. The Catapult's cup - Night

Maurice, tied up and blindfolded, lays on his side in the GIANT WOODEN CUP, unconscious.

He stirs.


Help! Where am I? Help!


Marianne is dressed in a circus acrobat's outfit, blue and sparkling, though clearly from another time. A small camping lantern lights the area as she fidgets with and checks on lighting equipment, a video camera on a tripod, and the catapult.


No one's going to hear you, Maurice. Trust me.


Marianne? What's going on? Who's got us?


I'VE got YOU, Maurice. It's time for our big number.

As she says this, Marianne picks up a stick and runs it across the coils of the catapult's giant spring. It makes a haunting xylophone-like sound.

Maurice (o.S.)

Oh my God, I'm in the catapult! What are you doing, Marianne? What the hell is going on?!

Marianne walks over and turns on the large performance light, then checks the view from the camera.


I told you, Maurice-- our big number.

Maurice (o.S.)

No, Marianne. Don't do this. You don't know what you're doing!

Marianne stands poised in front of the catapult's cup, facing the camera.


(quietly, to Maurice)

I know perfectly well what I'm doing.

(to video camera)

Ladies and gentlemen, children and seniors, sons, daughters, parents and grandparents!
Welcome one and all to the final performance of The Flying Motza Brothers! I am your hostess, and humble assistant, Marianne Motza!

Maurice (o.s.)

Somebody help me! She's gone nuts! Helllp!

Maurice's SCREAMING continues as Marianne proceeds. Her voice booms with decisive clarity.


Tonight we will do a memorial performance in honor of the great Paul Motza, who as you may know recently left this world.

I am joined tonight by his brother Maurice Motza, who is a son of a bitch, pardon my language.


Get me out of here!


It is with Maurice's 'World-Famous Catapultic Contraption' that he and I will do our greatest stunt ever!

Now, Maurice is blindfolded, and can't see where the Contraption is pointed, but you and I can, and as you can tell, you're in for a truly spectacular show!

Maurice SCREECHES unintelligibly.

Marianne reaches up behind her head, grasping the edge of the cup with both hands. She bends her knees, then leaps up, hands still holding, feet swinging forward, then up and around, as she swings up into the cup in one smooth, sparkling move.

Marianne lands in the cup facing the huddled Maurice, one foot on either side of him.

She swings her arm forward and slaps Maurice in the face, hard. She leans in close and covers his mouth with her hand. Maurice goes silent.

Marianne yanks off Maurice's blindfold and draws close to his face.


I did a lot of thinking about it, Maurice, and it's simple. Now, you tell me--you were his brother. Tell me that you didn't know he would kill himself if he ever found out about us. Tell me that.

Maurice is weeping. Marianne pulls her hand away from his mouth. He says nothing.


I thought so. (beat) This is the right thing to do, Maurice. This is what we have to do.

She reaches down and grabs the trigger rope (the same one Paul held earlier on). She stands straight up, facing the video camera.


(to video camera)

Ladies and gentlemen, children and seniors, sons, daughters, parents and grandparents! On behalf of The Flying Motza Brothers, I bid you fond farewell!

Marianne crouches down into the cup, one hand raised above the edge, holding the rope. She yanks the rope,

the latch CLICKS, the giant spring GROANS, and Marianne and Maurice are launched by giant catapult to the most spectacular acrobatic death imaginable.

Fade out

Copyright © 2005-6 Lance Brown, All Rights Reserved