Adam Bailey is On Fire (Still Your Friend) 2016 Toronto Fringe Review

Adam Bailey is On Fire poster

Tonight I had the pleasure of seeing Adam Bailey is On Fire on the first night of Toronto Fringe Festival 2016.

Adam Bailey, the title character, is the gay son of an evangelical Christian minister. The show is about his life experiences framed by these often discordant circumstances.

This one-man show cleverly toggled between reflective monologues and re-enactments of significant conversations and events in Adam’s life. He also included hilarious audience participation bits, as in the beginning, when the sizeable crowd got a good laugh out of his re-telling of communion at his dad’s church. To partake of the communal wine, the audience (congregation) all drank out of the same red party-sized disposable cup that you find at the dollar store when you are throwing a house party. Needless to say, the audience stopped drinking the wine (which was actually grape juice) after the first row had had a sip.

From early questions about whether homosexuality was a sin (according to the church), to his college experiences, first dates -including an uproarious tale of a surprise visit to a bathhouse – and beyond, Mr. Bailey used lots of humour to illustrate the strange mixture of a traditional religious upbringing and non-traditional lifestyle that he has had to navigate.

Who knew that a dyke was a woman who wears comfortable shoes (according to a very young Adam)? Or that trying to convince others that homosexuality is NOT a sin (according to the Bible) is called “The World’s Worst Game Show?” Every time you explain a point – for example, in the Old King James version (the oldest English translation of the Bible) the word homosexual was translated wrong, so what was REALLY meant was something completely different. Therefore, the Bible is actually NOT saying homosexuality is a sin…..right? The very loud and annoying buzzer sounds because you have given the WRONG answer. Again. No explanation can change people’s deep-rooted religious beliefs, says Adam. And that’s why it’s the Worst Game Show Ever. Oh, and prizes include Excommunication and the ever-popular Burning in Hell.

I don’t want to give away the audience participation element at the very end, but let me just say that it made the show completely unforgettable (as if it wasn’t memorable enough already).

In short, it’s a coming-of-age story for the modern world with tons of heart and humour. As I overheard a fellow audience member say afterwards, “I cried a little and I laughed a lot.”

Details

  • Adam Bailey is On Fire plays at the St. Vladimir Institute. (620 Spadina Ave)
  • Tickets are $12 at the door and in advance, and can be bought online, by telephone (416-966-1062), from the Fringe Club at Honest Ed’s Alley, and — if any remain — from the venue’s box office starting one hour before curtain. The festival also offers a range of money-saving passes for serious Fringers.
  • Be aware that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and that latecomers are never admitted.
  • Content Warnings: Mature Language, Sexual Content.
  • This venue is wheelchair-accessible.

Performances

  • Wednesday June 29th, 08:45 pm
  • Friday July 1st, 05:00 pm
  • Saturday July 2nd, 01:45 pm
  • Monday July 4th, 10:45 pm
  • Tuesday July 5th, 02:45 pm
  • Thursday July 7th, 08:00 pm
  • Saturday July 9th, 11:00 pm

Photo of Adam Bailey by Hugh Problyn.

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