The Adversary, written and performed by Andrew Bailey as part of the Toronto Fringe Festival, is an autobiographical one-man show about Bailey’s experiences as a church caretaker in Vancouver’s notorious lower east side. A part of his job is to deal with the local street addicts, a task he takes on with compassion but which also requires some self-preservation, and this is the context where he wrestles with his faith and his relationship with God.
This sounds like a show that could be horrible, but it’s really not. It’s quite good and it made me feel an immense respect for Bailey. It also helped me feel some appreciation for people like the church’s tattooed priest, Max. I don’t always have a very positive view of religion and anything associated with it, so this was very good for me.
Bailey starts the show with some dramatic stuff involving a couple of hand puppets, but he quickly tosses them away and for the rest it’s just him, and a chair that he sometimes uses. I don’t even think he really needed the puppets: he is interesting enough all by himself. He embodies the large cast of church workers and street people perfectly, with slight changes to his voice and his posture. What I liked best was how he humanized the addicts. They are all full, real people to him and that is how he presented them to us.
He has the cadence of an accomplished storyteller and comes across as the kind of neurotic geek that has great taste in books and movies and a good sense of humour but also has a hard time letting himself ever be happy. Of course this is a play about Bailey’s past: it’s quite possible that at this point he’s a different person and he was using his acting ability to manifest his former self. Either way, he is a skillful performer.
Because of where I was sitting in the audience, he seemed to be staring right at me during a particularly intense piece about a suicide attempt in his youth. It was incredibly powerful. I am very glad I decided to see this show despite my previous reservations.
- The Adversary plays at the Tarragon Theatre Extra Space, 30 Bridgman Ave
- Performances are:
July 05 07:30 PM
July 07 03:00 PM
July 08 09:00 PM
July 09 03:30 PM
July 11 07:00 PM
July 12 03:30 PM
July 13 05:15 PM
- Tickets for all Mainstage productions are $10 at the door, cash only.
- Advance tickets are $11, and can be purchased online, by phone (416-966-1062 ext. 1), or from the festival box office at the Fringe Club. (Rear of Honest Ed’s, 581 Bloor St. West)
- Money-saving value packs are also available; see website for details.
- LATECOMERS ARE NEVER ADMITTED TO FRINGE SHOWS. To avoid disappointment, be sure to arrive a few minutes before curtain.
Photo provided by the company