REVIEW: Fly or Die (Hamish Parkinson) (NZ International Comedy Festival 2015)

Hamish Parkinson

Surreal Grandeur [by Matt Baker]

Hamish Parkinson
Hamish Parkinson

There are a variety of ways in which artists create work, and while there are theoretical practices that can be employed in an attempt to ensure some form of artistic merit, such an outcome is never guaranteed. There will always be those who follow the rules, guidelines, and templates to great success, and then there are those, like Hamish Parkinson, who will capitalise on these concepts and use them to their own unique advantage. It’s a way of working by which very few artists can genuinely abide, but for those who can, again, like Parkinson, it has an incredibly successful result.

From the moment he enters on stage to the moment he leaves, there’s barely any semblance of sanity in either Parkinson or his material. The show operates in an extreme meta-theatrical/comedic style, reminiscent of the late Andy Kaufman, and while Parkinson keeps his audiences’ attention throughout, there are opportunities for him to delve further into this rarified form of artistic expression, especially with his training and inarguably brilliant skill in clowning. Working through a checklist of the necessary components for the perfect comedy show, the intentional and comedic cracks in Parkinson’s on stage persona begin to materialise as he tackles the seemingly simplest of tasks, ironically illustrating the intricacies of comedy with his surreal grandeur.

Parkinson is an engaging performer, and The Basement studio space allows him to establish a relationship with his audience that is necessary for the absurdity of the show. To be literally or metaphorically too far removed would detach an audience and prevent them from tuning into Parkinson’s wavelength. While there is no specific audience interaction, this is not a show to sit back and witness passively, so buy a ticket and strap yourself in for this roller coaster comedy.

Fly or Die plays plays as part of the NZ International Comedy Festival at The Basement until May 16. For details see Comedy Festival.

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