Review by Andrew Moore
|Photo via redbastard.com|
There's a nagging little imp inside our minds that is telling us we could do more, accomplish more, be more. We try to shut him up with pills or alcohol or simply being "too busy," but he's there, waiting for an opportunity to rub our pathetic little failures in our face and say, "SEE? YOU WOULDN'T BE STUCK IN A DEAD-END LIFE IF YOU HAD JUST LISTENED TO ME IN THE FIRST PLACE!"
There's a reason why we keep him shut up in a mental broom closet, why we strive to keep his voice out of our heads. It's uncomfortable to be laughed at -- it's worse when it's us doing the laughing.
Red Bastard is that imp. His wild gymnastics and existential challenges are uncomfortable, but sorely needed.
This isn't entertainment; it's an experience. Eric Davis is entertaining -- please don't misunderstand. He is entrancing and vivacious as the eponymous bulbous buffoon. What I mean to say is this is not some mere show that you just go to see.
Brecht said, "Art is not a mirror to hold up to society, but a hammer with which to shape it." Red Bastard is the mirror and the hammer, and he empowers his audience to join him. He can't force his audience out of their comfort zone; they have to be willing to go on the journey with him. You do not have to be willing to trust him, per se, at least no more than you would trust yourself, but willing to play along. Willing to dance with the devil, as it were.
Does he succeed? It depends upon the audience, I suppose. He certainly gave me pause, and I've been rolling around the Red Bastard experience in my mind since last night's performance. Davis makes a valiant effort at being an agent provocateur and change agent, yet in spite of his monstrous posturing and the maniacal control he exercises over the audience, there is a very human vulnerability just under the surface of the monster. This spark of vulnerability lends a certain ineffable charm to Red Bastard, and provides a sense of safety no matter how risky the dance becomes. His performance hinges on an audience willing to play, and it is a courageous risk on his own part.
Go be a part of Red Bastard; be willing to play. Take the clown at face value and he will return the favor.
Red Bastard is seducing audiences Mondays at 8pm, but THERE ARE ONLY TWO PERFORMANCES LEFT! April 29th and May 13th, at Sacred Fools, 660 N. Heliotrope Dr., in Los Angeles; just south of Melrose and a couple of blocks west of Vermont Ave. Street parking is ample, but get there a little early. Tickets are $20 and available at www.sacredfools.org/onlineboxoffice/.
(Side note: Scoops, a groovy little gelato joint just north of Melrose on Heliotrope is open until 10:00 pm. After the show, take a little walk and try their salted caramel or jasmine pistachio. It's a tasty, decadent treat that pairs well with nursing your inner imp.)