Do you lie? Of course you fucking do! In a matter of minutes, Red Bastard will demonstrate that we’re all liars, right down to the very last one of us. “But they’re just white lies,” you’ll whine. “They don’t matter.” With that in mind, Red Bastard then homes in on the one area which matters most – love. This clownish, interactive, theatrical comedy turns the spotlight on our own choices with regards to love and fidelity and asks us to examine the rules by which we play humanity’s favourite game.
Not wanting to give too much away, the central message at the heart of Lie With Me is certainly worthy of discussion and may well challenge a host of pre-existing conceptions which many an audience member had accepted as writ up until seeing the show. The thematic meat of the sandwich might not come across as fresh or as profound to the more liberal or open-minded in attendance (those which Red Bastard calls “perverts” with tongue firmly in cheek), but judging by the wider reaction, it’s a viewpoint which has barely crossed the minds of the majority.
As such, it’s certainly an important experience which could well open up alternative ways of thinking. Unfortunately, the presentation of the show’s central tenet is not quite as slick as it’d like to be. Although it’s marketed as an interactive journey which will vary according to audience responses, in reality it’s clear that Red Bastard has a predetermined endpoint in mind and is keenly (though sometimes clumsily) twisting the audience participation to those goals. Similarly, problematic lines of enquiry are quickly dismissed if they are deemed to pose a threat to the route which has been mapped out.
At the same time, the show doesn’t seem to know quite what genre it fits into. At one moment Eric Davis (the man behind the Bastard) is baring his soul to us, the next the Bastard takes over and leaps around the stage in full Jim Carrey mode. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but the last segment in particular is incongruous and simply aims for cheap laughs at the expense of awkward audience members; it smacks of filler material that could quite easily be discarded in order to give a weightier oomph to the real issues at play. All in all, it’s certainly a flawed show which could do with neatening up here and there, but nevertheless brings an interesting and potentially powerful concept under the Fringe spotlight.