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Red Bastard review

Assembly, George Square

By Ben Walters |

It’s hardly surprising that lots of audiences are a bit scared of Red Bastard. The New York-based performer might cut a comical figure – an almost amorphously unitarded blob somewhere between a rooster and a tomato – but there’s something of the leering cadaver about his pale face and red-rimmed eyes, and he wastes no time in shooting death stares at the crowd, getting in their faces, making them swap seats, even throwing them out of the venue if he doesn’t like the cut of their jib. All this confrontation, however (which might make Fringe audiences think of Dr Brown), is a kind of radical ice-breaking that sets the scene for a disinhibited collaboration between performer and audience based on strict leadership and a contract of honesty in expression. And to what end? To your own benefit, it turns out, if you could be doing more to unlock your own passions and ambitions. Bastard by name, he’s a sweetie by nature, a sheep in wolf’s clothing acting as some kind of combination of drama teacher and motivational speaker as he executes with enormous sophistication, confidence and control a show that is often hilarious, sometimes inspirational, occasionally patronising, utterly vital and riveting from start to end. (Listed in the Comedy section.)

And if you like the sound of this, try:

‘Tomás Ford: Electric Midnight Cabaret’, another show that gets in your face and throws you for a loop but really just wants to be your friend.

For more from Ben Walters in Edinburgh, follow him @not_television


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