They say you never really understand someone until you meet their parents. And while you could argue that comedian Hamish Parkinson’s father makes an appearance in Me ‘n’ Ma, it’s his mother, Lynette, who provides an insight into the life and mind of the absurd, often intense, but always enjoyable clown. This is done, ironically, by following Lynette’s journey that led to the Parkinson’s becoming a family, from meeting her future husband, to the revenge-fuelled fantasies in her career as a masseuse.
Prompted by Hamish through (often provocative) questions, Lynette regales us with amusing anecdotes and advice, as she reflects on the ups and downs her life as a wife and mother have given her. And while patriarchal in their roles, they are necessary narrative and thematic restraints. This is most notable as Hamish edits the content in real-time, and while he can afford to be more stringent in the process, which will no doubt happen as the season continues, it’s all part of the shows charm. It’s the uncertainty, from both Hamish and Lynette, of what could happen next, while wrapped in the comfort you feel when visiting a loving home.
Unfortunately, while this uncertainty is obviously heightened on opening night, The Dance of the Exes segment does drag due to entrances and exits, meaning the finale is not given enough room for the audience to enjoy as they’re rushed out the door.
There’s always been a sense of genuine play in Hamish’s work. He’s the kind of comedian who can make a one-word line side-splittingly hilarious. It’s a skill that he’s honed through improvisational work in Snort, but it comes from a place of optimism and wonder at the opportunities in front of him. And now, we see that this quality has been ingrained in him from an early age.
Lynette is not a performer – she is an open and honest person. And that’s what audiences want. Even in the rehearsed bits, there is never a sense of her trying to show us anything other than who she is. From throwaway comments to familial colloquialisms, the Parkinsons’ dynamic is a joy to observe. There’s even a guest cameo, who makes a brilliant offer. Mother’s Day may have come and gone, but there’s no reason for not taking yours along for a belated gift.