Red Bastard

Eric Davis and Sue Morrison
Part of SURGE festival
The Arches, Glasgow

A big bulging sack of filth whose barbed wit and huge physical presence were painfully funny, shocking and disarming.

Bouffon Eric Davis has created the most wonderful in-your-face act: his Red Bastard is all arse and belly with delicate legs and arms poking out. The ridiculous red costume in no way inhibits the graceful mover inside as he cavorts across the stage and indeed into the audience to seek out victims, and even backstage when a techie takes a wrong turning through a black leg. In short no one is safe.

Physically grotesque, but it is verbally that this bouffon act really takes the audience apart. The continuous monologue is every bit as fast, sharp and manic as his moves, but it also allows him to go much further in his mockery of the audience. He begins by building up the audience's trust as a life coach for people with artistic dreams, which, as with any theatre, is the whole room, but by the end he's rubbing our self-inflicted failings in our faces.

This description makes it sound cruel, but being part of that audience was insanely fun. Yes, he played with us and manipulated us and picked on people, but it was all so incredibly funny. I spent much of the performance leaning forward groaning with laughter, and he attacked us when we laughed. A friend of mine who sat a few seats away and whose laughter can become quite high pitched found she was an ongoing target. Other audience members were lured into reaching into the Bastard's arse amongst other humiliations. He played us like a virtuoso on a violin.

Towards the end it was quite philosophical and he was on a mission to strip away our inhibitions: slightly less laughter, but this allowed a build-up to a great finale and a lovely ending.

I haven't laughed that much in a long time and I don't think I've ever had that much fun as part of an audience.

Reviewer: Seth Ewin

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