Paul Williams @ Underbelly Cowgate

Imaginative comedy from a comedian who is literally escaping his brother’s shadow

Review by Paul Mitchell | 07 Aug 2018
  • Paul Williams

Continuing the seeming current Kiwi determination to make musical comedy great again, it’s almost disappointing that Mr Williams doesn’t use his resonant voice to sing more than a couple of songs throughout Santa Fe.

What he also possesses is a wickedly inventive mind – the show is ostensibly a meta journey through the perils of appearing on stage as a comedian. As such, we get a convoluted deconstruction of the process of dealing with hecklers, underpinned by the perceived pressure of performing in the shadow of his “more successful” older brother Guy Williams (depicted by Paul who literally performs with the shadow of his older brother). Transporting his initial routine to a different place in history (the Santa Fe of the title, in the gun-slinging Wild West era) also works delightfully well, proving there’s joy in wilfully manipulated repetition – particularly with the skilfully managed ‘audience participation’ of members of the public Grace and Rick. They must have thought they were getting off lightly at the beginning, but ended up becoming vital elements in the denouement.

If there is an element that lets it down, it’s that the set pieces aren’t punctuated with, well, a few more jokes – but this really is a minor gripe regarding a work of genuine creativity.

Paul Williams: Santa Fe, Underbelly Cowgate (Iron Belly), 2-26 Aug (not 14th), 4.10pm, £6.50-10

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