Launchpad Double Bill : The Sorry Mum Project

Written and performed by Pippa Ellams Directors: Hannah Goodwin, Tasha O’Brien. Riverside Theatres, Parramatta. 18-20 March, 2021

Reviewed : March 19, 2021

Photo : Noni Carroll.

Pippa Ellams aplogises to her mother in a way that not only acknowledges her mother but suggests to “grown up children in the audience that they consider giving their mum a call”. As Ellams looks back on all the strange things her mother “cried over” she nudges the daughters – and sons – in the audience to remember the things they took for granted, the times they should have said ‘thank you’, and just how often they forgot to say ‘sorry’. She also reminds them of just how embarrassing parents can be!

Ellam chooses her mother’s ambitions for her as a dancer to characterise and recapitulate her childhood. The many dance lessons, the fanciful costumes, even a visit to the Moulin Rouge. Though her anecdotes are filled with humour, I wonder if she realises that the feelings of resentment and humiliation that underscore the comedy reignite memories to the mothers in the audience as well.

Photo : Noni Carroll.

Does she see them cringing as they recall the many times they dragged their reluctant offspring to violin lessons? Or sent them to school in uniforms a few sizes too big so they could “grow into them”? Or embarrassed them by singing too loudly in church?

Ellams tells her story colourfully, surrounded by costumes, photographs and snatches of music. She uses the rhythms and patterns of the dance lessons that were so central to her childhood to accentuate the pace and cadences of her performance, finishing with a bright – and befittingly pink and feathery – choreographed “sorry” to her Mum.

Pippa Ellams’ message is two-fold. It’s a message to kids and parents alike. She not only suggests we all “think about how we made it through the rough years” but that we find a way to say ‘sorry’ for some things – and ‘thank you for others.

Ellams decided to do it through this production – and her Mum loves it!

First published in Stage Whispers magazine