Well…this was certainly a most ambitious fringe offering. One man performing various musical styles as eight different characters and promising “it’s gonna be offensive” (hence the long list of trigger warnings in the show blurb). The main issue was that this writer/composer/performer of music theatre, comedy and rock, William James Smith, seemed to focus on the offensive content to the detriment of this shows’ humour.
Hung upon a story of ten year old Little Timmy being dragged in front of the Human Rights commission for drawing a dick. Commisioners for Race, Gender, Sex and Disabled Rights (as well as his inept lawyer) presented their “cases” in song with a variation of the dick portrait introducing each segment. Ultra PC types making a mountain out of a molehill was a solid topic for ridicule but Smith painted all of his characters with extremely broad brushstrokes and used crass stereotypes which seemed a bit lazy. Sure, he was all about pushing buttons with all these grotesque people but he constantly beat you over the head and deliberately presented misinformation as fact to flesh them out as bogeymen which gave the whole performance a nasty and ignorant undercurrent. Most of his observations on these “PC monsters” were so surface level and brief that instead of expanding on their beefs, each song spent the majority of its running time giving an inappropriate and graphic sexual education to Timmy .
The majority of his jokes were talk of sex acts including plenty of double entendres. They lacked finesse to be outright funny but the onslaught elicited nervous titters at times. Some lines could have been amusing if he was playing them for ironic laughs but the vibe of this performance suggested otherwise.
Using a viola, Smith played various musical styles – a huge challenge which he achieved with varying degrees of success. Some genres were easily recognisable while others needed some clarification. Tuning issues and possible opening night nerves resulted in many bum notes and screeches. The songs themselves were full of variety and rarely repetitive… unless he was coaxing the crowd to sing along to some highly offensive parts which became a grind and was embarrassing for all involved.
Smith’s background in musical theatre certainly was apparent, doing various characters and questionable accents as well as adding a reprise of the songs to a show already running way over time. He plowed on through some technical difficulties and danced up a storm, all while staying in character.
This was certainly a show that many would find problematic. Even if you’re one who doesn’t easily take offence you might be offended by the lack of smart comedy.
Don’t Draw Pictures of Dicks The One-Man Musical is on at Club Voltaire until September 28