Master storyteller Andrew Bailey takes a compassionate stab at justice and dignity in The Adversary, the latest and perhaps sharpest installment yet in this hometown talent’s sweet-and-sardonic monologue series.
Best described as a tale of poetic justice, the narrative is based largely in Bailey’s decade-long stint as caretaker for Victoria’s St. John the Divine, the church tucked away at Quadra and Mason that serves equitable time as a haven for God’s children and an out-of-the way spot to shoot up for junkies. Through the opinions from and interactions with a motley group of homeless people, we learn that Bailey’s gig was as much about connecting to the humanity in others as it was about pre-church lawn mows and de-needling the underbrush every Sunday.
Bailey uses his 60 minutes wisely to unpack justice as concept—both the street variety and otherwise—while commenting on tolerance, the heartbreak and fellowship of Victoria’s homeless population and his personal take on the kind of battles that are worth fighting. While each piece before Adversary has exposed Bailey’s total lack of self-assurance, this new work trails his evolving sixth sense for knowing when to take charge and when to leave the shit-kicking to someone else.
Delivered with subtlety, honest wit and expert comedic timing, Bailey appropriately humanizes the story beyond the realm of preachy or patronizing and his clean transitions between both character and anecdote keep the audience on pace from start to finish.
As someone who has seen, loved, praised and publicly extolled the virtues of the award-winning Andrew Bailey Monologue Trilogy (Scrupulosity, Putz and Limbo, respectively), I see The Adversary as a comfortable fit for the more mature, less-freaked-out-but-still-geeky next chapter in Bailey’s confessional saga. Mostly autobiographical, the sub-themes and people involved in each piece have been virtually the same—yet Bailey has deftly used each monologue to bring one element, one particular cast of characters from his life to centre stage for a level of charming and thoughtful analysis that earns every laugh, gasp and agreeable nod it gets.
Performed for the first time ever to a sold-out crowd on Sunday night, The Adversary is poised to become another runaway hit for Bailey on the Fringe circuit this summer. Victoria is only too lucky to get to see it first.
— Melanie Tromp Hoover