Bastard by name, bastard by nature. This year’s poster boy favourite proves he’s out to shake up the Fringe with an in-your-face show and a monster booty to match.
There’s no doubt of this clown’s marketing savoir, few Adelaideans could have missed his photo all over the media. On the second night of his show a full house packed into the Umbrella Revolution to see what all the fuss is about.
From the outset, Red Bastard’s mastery of mime and physical performance is a stand out. His lavish and absurd red stuffed bodysuit creates a silhouette somewhere between a pregnant chicken and Santa Claus. He rubs his engorged belly in a most unappealing manner and uses fast, sharp gestures with a stylised European flavour. His way of prancing about the stage is highly skilful and visually engaging, a great deviation from the majority of Aussie comedic styles, or ‘clowns’, if the label may be used down here. The man inside the costume is Eric Davis, a New York based performance artist and all round Bouffon master, who claims some exclusive international training as well as stage time with the likes of Cirque Du Soleil.
The show is heavily geared towards audience participation and Red Bastard makes this explicit from the word go. However, he relies predominantly on the fact that they will be willing and, as he puts it, uninhibited. Unfortunately for him, last night’s Adelaide crowd consisted mainly of the avert-eye-gaze or respond-with-blank-stare variety, and it was clear pretty quickly that the poor bastard had his work cut out for him.
With so much back and forth between the punters and performer this show will undoubtedly vary a lot from night to night. To his credit, the Red Bastard displays a deft capacity for improvisation and reacts quickly in attempts to maintain the tone and tempo of the show. Looking back at the faces in the rows, many people often wore a bemused or intimidated expression. They were probably either planning how to respond if interrogated, or hoping they wouldn’t be the next one asked to do some unsavoury thing to his anus. Undoubtedly these reactions are part of the bastard’s plan: to present the audience with a challenging and dangerous show, as opposed to the usual passive experience.
This reviewer found the style a little more aggressive than preferred. While never advocating the construction of a fourth wall, it should be noted that performers must proceed with caution when requesting an emotional contribution and collaboration from their audience. The bastard’s methods of persuasion do not come gently, nor does he employ any charm in their delivery. But his promotional line does call him ‘a dangerous and seductive comedy monster’, and while seduction is not a word I’d have included here, he is certainly one intriguing and charismatic big red bastard.
Strut & Fret and Bastard Productions present
Venue: The Garden of Unearthly Delights - Umbrella Revolution | Rundle Park / Kadlitpinna Cnr of East Tce & Rundle Street Adelaide
Dates: February 12 to March 13
Tickets: $28 / $25