by Laura Ferguson
Most of the songs in the show are inspired-originals by Williams, filled with personal anecdotes, tying them in with personal anecdotes. These musical asides help punctuate the montage theme and showcase the awkward style of his humour. However, smooth transitions and 80’s fade-outs of typical montages are absent from Williams’ show as he prefers stilted jarring transitions, again circling back to his self-effacing, maladroit demeanour. He was awkward. It was awkward. But the effect was confusing. I ponder whether this is on purpose or if Williams is truly this disorganised. Unfortunately, I land on the side of the latter.
Williams takes lengths to make sure that we don’t end up dating a racist, but I became uncomfortable when he began singing a song about dating a blind girl. I sat, feeling weird that someone who had previously implored me not to date a racist, was now serving up low-brow humour on a disability. The jokes were about the disability and pointing things she couldn’t do. It didn’t feel clever and I wanted it to be clever and it never said anything new. As a result, it didn’t sit well with me, so much so that I wiggled in squirmy agitation in my seat.
Speaking of wordplay, Williams likes himself a pun and takes elongated pains to point them out to us in an obvious-humour way that goes hand-in-hand with his comedy style. During this, I sat silently screaming to myself because while he pointed out the highlighting of one romance pun, there was another golden opportunity right next to it that wasn’t being mined. As an avid pun-lover, it was disheartening to see such lovely wordplay go to waste, especially when the show is called Summertime Love.
Summertime Love starts on a high with music and dancing and it ends the same way. Some of it seemed unnecessary, detouring a perfectly good party. However, I loved the end when Williams puts himself out there, despite potential embarrassment, to rectify a childhood regret. He wears a sheepish grin on his face and you can tell he’s enjoying himself. I felt good and liked the end message he was relaying. He was rewarded by our applause before we dispersed, heading out into the bitter winds of impending winter, leaving the glow of Paul Williams’ Summertime Love behind.
Paul Williams’ Summertime Love plays at BATS Theatre from Tuesday 2nd – 6th May. You can find tickets here.