nytheatre.com review by Richard Hinojosa
September 2, 2006
Is Red Bastard one hilarious bastard because he's so self absorbed or because the joke is on us? I'll leave that for you to decide. One thing is for sure, he's an idiot but he's in charge, and I can say with a great deal of certainty that Mr. Bastard is the biggest Buffoon in the world.
The show is set up like a workshop and we, the audience, are the students. The Red Bastard enters wearing red long johns with his belly and butt ridiculously overstuffed with giant balloons. He is our chicken-legged movement instructor and he's here to teach us how to make something interesting happen every ten seconds. Well, that's the premise anyway. From there the show goes in many completely outrageous directions, most of which have to do with him making us laugh at our fellow "students" while we pray that we aren't next. It is mocking physical comedy mixed with some brilliant observations on art, performance and the "industry."
The performer behind the Red Bastard is Eric Davis. Davis is a New York performance art network hero. He performs as this bastard and other clowns all over town. His brand of clowning is intricate and progressive in a way that is so funny and preposterous that at times I felt as if I'd stepped into a movie set in a clown's mind. He is mischievous and smart and he never loses a moment. And that's saying a lot in a performance that is entirely improvised around a few basic comedy bits.
There is a section at the end of the Red Bastard's show that turned uncharacteristically political. The show became no longer about the audience and no longer about him, so it felt out of place. The material was still funny and very pointed, but not self absorbed enough to be the Red Bastard.
I have seen the Red Bastard many times now and Davis has never failed to make me laugh like child on a twisty slide. If you haven't had a chance to see him, do so now. Davis has another clown show in this festival and I highly recommend seeing him in whatever his character of the moment is.