In the immortal words of Kanye West, ‘no one man should have all that power’. New Yorker Eric Davis (Red Bastard), in his trademark lumpy red onesie, gets thoroughly turned on by wielding it, with a smile like a silk-covered steel rod. This is the most hyped-up, clamouringly covered show that I’ve had the privilege to review - and being unable and unwilling to divulge all the Bastard’s secrets (we made a contract), I can at least shed a bit of light on what makes this unrepeatable show if not unmissable, definitely ‘suck it and see’.
Red Bastard tears the room up and leaves something fascinating in its place. It’s a bumpy ride, but full of potentially enlightening sights.
Worshipping at the church of Bouffon, where the aim is to gain laughs through mockery, Red is a stealthy assassin spraying bullets like raindrops; his ricocheting patter gradually breaks the audience out of their passive (and preferred), voyeuristic stupor and into a useful state of interaction - used to best effect in the latter half of the show. Moments of floor-swallowing discomfort are swiftly chased away by guffaws and smiles. This audience-marinating is a crucial, if painful process that’s necessary to create the blue-sky conditions for Red Bastard’s denouement.
Relying on the crowd to supply nuggets of intrigue is not a method for the faint-hearted however - like baking bread, it could easily fall flat without the right ingredients. Or explode, as it happened. The show’s aim - to beat down your super-ego and let your impulsive, selfish id take over, or at least, surface for the show’s duration - is not quantum astrophysics. And yet, what transpired on Bastard’s inaugural visit to Brighton, between a buffoon and The Bouffon, was a text-book example of what happens when someone ‘doesn’t get it’ (let’s face it, there’s always one). For those who are unwilling to surrender their super-egos at the door, let me be super clear - DO NOT ENTER. Be a butthead at home and stop wasting the time of your fellow ticket-buyers.
Still, not playing along is within the nature of the beast - providing the ‘something interesting’ Red Bastard promised us at the start. This hot little fuss also reinforced the resolve of the rest of the audience to participate the hell out of the show’s twilight moments.
Should one man have all that power? Provided he wields as a force for good, the answer can only be ‘why not?’. Subverting what we know about being an audience, or what we think a performer should do, Red Bastard tears the room up and leaves something fascinating in its place. It’s a bumpy ride, but full of potentially enlightening sights.
I left exhausted and in need of a stiff drink.