Red Bastard – 'As difficult as it is going through the Edinburgh slog, it is one of the most enjoyable times'

Red Bastard: 'As difficult as it is going through the Edinburgh slog, it is one of the most enjoyable times'

The return of the biggest bastard in show business

Despite the ferocious personality of Red Bastard on stage, Eric Davis is surprisingly soft spoken and thoughtful as he considers his spectacular bouffon character. Having included a meditation on the horrors of the Fringe in his previous show, he is enthusiastic to return to Edinburgh. 'It's funny, he reflects. 'I have been to a bunch of different places. As difficult as it is going through the Edinburgh slog, it is one of the most enjoyable times. If they say go where they love you, this is one of those places.'

Red Bastard's Fringe debut in 2013 announced a visceral, provocative performer who engages his audience in a battle of wits, using the strategies of bouffon – an aggressive manifestation of clowning – to command their participation and, ultimately, submission to his vision of creative freedom. A mastery of physical theatre, cutting wit and theatrical dynamism are combined to not only demonstrate Davis' brilliance but also to challenge any lazy ambitions and tepid attitudes in the audience.

'This time, primarily, I am looking at love – and I don't mean sex, but it could be,' Davis explains. 'But I am open to the possibility of sex. Maybe live sex on stage? It's up to the audience what happens in this show.' Far from disguising vagueness in his intentions, this invitation to the audience to get involved is key to the Bastard dramaturgy. 'There is a certain element of space I give to the audience, which opens up risk, and that risk means the show can reach different places.' It's a bracing experience, demanding a bold audience as well as Davis' fearlessness.

Davis says Lie with Me sees Red Bastard shift between 'pure bouffon and pure clown, allowing the audience to laugh at him and their own stupidity,' evoking a vulnerability that deepens the connection and communication between the spectator and the performer. It is this immediacy that makes a Red Bastard show distinctive.

Now, Red Bastard is taking this conversation into more intimate territory. 'The show's about the rules of love: how and why you love the way you do. About the fear of freedom, lies in general but specifically those to our lovers,' he continues, before adding a typical sharp comment, 'And the bastards who made us lie in the first place. I'm not going to say who they are, but I bet there'll be a few in the show!'

Pleasance Courtyard, 5–27 Aug (not 14), 9.30pm, £10–£11 (£9–£10). Previews 2–4 Aug, £6.

Red Bastard: Lie With Me

  • 4 stars

Fringe hero, Red Bastard, is back with a shocking and disarming new show.

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