Apr 6, 2023
Cathy Wippell, Amber Doig Thorne
Two very different clowns with very different perspectives on life have a philosophical heart-to-heart in Final Parade, a reflection on the joys, dreads and pressures of performance.
Pierrot (Cathy Wippell) and Harlequin (Amber Doig Thorne) sit full-clown-costumed on a pebble beach on a day off from their show. Pierrot dreads being on stage again, feeling her entire life is a performance and that she lacks the capacity to enjoy her natural pessimism. Her outlook seems alien to Harlequin, who happily embraces life on stage with an innate optimism. She decides to makes a gesture that Pierrot is unprepared for.
Final Parade is quick and contemplative – squaring two different outlooks against each other to build an interpretive and unexpected conclusion. Its musings are not ground-breaking or incredible, but the colourful presentation makes them engaging. The classic pessimist/optimist clash, resulting in the discovery of unexpected light for the miserable party is well-tread ground, but well-executed humorous moments and outlandishly outfitted co-leads make it welcomingly familiar.
Thankfully for a short starring two clowns, there are some genuinely funny moments around the depth. These usually make use of Pierrot’s gloom putting a stop on the whimsical music refrain – always to good effect. Amber Doig Thorne’s aloofness as Harlequin brings a dark shade to a not-quite-black comedy, as she sits seemingly and airily oblivious to her friend’s personal crisis.
Cathy Wippell makes for an endearing and empathetic Pierrot whose dejected moping points to a larger and deeper personal strife. Remove the clown make-up and the difficulties she speaks of are still relatable (even to those who don’t mime or juggle for a living) – and Wippell’s ability to emote real and profound anguish to what is somewhat average and surface-level dialogue is what really lands the role. Amber Doig Thorne’s Harlequin by contrast floats on a cloud of her own satisfaction, enamoured by her role in life and eager to imprint this on Pierrot. Thorne’s insertion of a mischievous and manipulative edge adds intrigue to the character, whose aims fall somewhere between oblivious and benevolent.
There are certainly interesting elements to Final Parade, and it does include enough humour, personality and engaging characterisation to more than fill its short runtime. It doesn’t quite manage to reach the depth or profundity that one senses the filmmakers were aiming for, but does allow two impressive lead performances to elevate a straightforward story into something more moving.