Gareth K Vile catches up with Eric Davis, the man behind Red Bastard, one of the festival’s most fearless and provocative acts



D espite the ferocious personality of Red Bastard on stage, Eric Davis is surprisingly soft spoken and thoughtful as he considers his spectacular in- your-face character. Having included

a meditation

on the horrors of the Fringe in his previous show, he is enthusiastic about returning to Edinburgh. ‘It’s funny,’ he rel ects. ‘I have been to a bunch of different places. As difi cult 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



an debut 2013 announced a visceral, p r o v o c a t i v e performer who engages his audience in a battle of wits, using the strategies of bouffon aggressive manifestation clowning to command and, their participation 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,’ the Kansas-born clown 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, 18 THE LIST FESTIVAL 3–10 Aug 2017

this invitation to the audience for their involvement 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.


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




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


Red Bastard: Lie With Me, Pleasance Courtyard, 5–27 Aug (not 14), 9.30pm, £10–£11 (£9–£10). Previews 2–4 Aug, £6.