What is comedy? Is it a construct designed solely for the purpose of amusing us? Or is there something more meaningful to it. Could it be a device to confront us and challenge beliefs or is that what you’d expect out of a high school debating competition? The way you perceive comedy will probably determine how much you enjoy Red Bastard’s show.
Purely on the grounds of hilarity this show is pretty good, there are moments of brilliance and big laughs out of the audience, but from a confrontational subversion of expectations this is one of the most creative, most brilliant shows devised.
Red Bastard enters on stage in a fashion reminiscent of burlesque dancers, hiding something before revealing the truth. Except where burlesque is used as a means of hiding then revealing sexiness, Red Bastard reveals something monstrous and hideous. Not just the character on stage but also our own fears of succeeding, of following what we truly want to.
There is no shortage of interaction. From everyone. Every single member of the audience will take part in some way or another. And if you don’t, well you get punished. By abuse, by spittle, or by Red Bastard sticking his finger in your ear.
This last action was the source of an incredible thing to witness last night. A woman had objected to Red Bastard touching her and they’d had a minor tussle – unknown by the rest of the crowd. She then challenged Red Bastard on invading her space without her consent. And then another member of the audience yelled out something belittling her point, which in turn got rebuttal from another member of the audience. Suddenly we weren’t in a show watching Red Bastard, he was watching us with demonic glee on his face.
The woman who challenged him deserves to be applauded for standing up for something and not backing down. She ran the risk of ruining the show for everyone but her point was an interesting and valid one. Red Bastard conceded this but in a way that never lost sight of his character and what his aims were. Despite the walk-out that occurred, the show was able to continue, when in just about any other context I think this would have completely derailed it.
The emotional wringing out of the audience is intense. That’s the word that everyone uses to describe this show. Intense. And it wouldn’t be for everyone.
However if you want your comedy to be something different, and you want to be challenged then I cannot recommend this show highly enough. It is a supreme show, unlike anything I’ve ever seen. And the perfect way for me to end my reviews of comedy at this year’s festival, by far and away the most creative festival I’ve been to.
May 10-14, 8.30pm, VK’s Comedy and Jazz Bar
Full Price $27.00
Group 6+ $23.00
Cheap Wednesday $21.60
*service fee may apply