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WINNIPEG FREE PRESS ★★★★
Austro-Hungarian Archduke Franz Ferdinand couldn’t catch a break. After surviving one attempt on his life earlier the same day, he kept a date with destiny when a confused chauffeur took a wrong turn and delivered him directly into the path of an assassin on June 28, 1914. Worse yet, the driver reversed the car and came to a stop within a few feet of the astonished killer, who took the opportunity to make the infamous shot heard ’round the world.
During an animated hour of storytelling, Toronto writer and performer Adam Bailey recounts a tragedy of errors, incorporating bizarre-but-true historical facts about Ferdinand and his doomed wife Sophie, the normally ineffectual young man who ended their lives and the political climate that sparked the First World War.
Bailey doesn’t need to take much artistic licence: the truth is stranger than anything he could make up. It’s also eerily entertaining, and notably enhanced by exceptional ambient music and sound design from Toronto composer and actor Alex Eddington.
— Pat St. Germain
“What the f—k else could go wrong?”
That’s the opening line — and a repeated refrain — in Adam Bailey’s smart examination of the assassination that precipitated the First World War.
It’s also a clue this is not exactly the type of history lesson you may have got in school.
As narrator, and slipping into a host of characters, Bailey tells the story of Gavrilo Princip, the Bosnian Serb who shot Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand. He dives deep into Princip’s life and the world around him — and how a disaffected 19-year-old changed the world.
It’s part biography, part history lesson and part docudrama. While those elements make for an engaging hour, they don’t always blend seamlessly. Transitions from narration to dialogue exchanges are sometimes awkward, and while Bailey is undeniably energetic, his performance is also sometimes a bit too earnest.
But Franz Ferdinand Must Die is overall absorbing — and pierces into a fascinating piece of history.
— Reviewed by Joff Schmidt
Edmonton Journal ★★★★
First, a quick history lesson. Archduke Franz Ferdinand was the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne. He was in line to one of the great European monarchies, a vast empire straddling Eastern and Western Europe.
In late June 1914, Ferdinand is assassinated by Black Hand disciple Gavrilo Princip while touring the Balkan city of Sarajevo. A team of assassins lined the route, but it was Princip who would pull the trigger on the fatal shot and set off the First World War.
That’s where most history books leave off. Princip and Ferdinand are known only for this single interaction. But what happened on that fateful day? Who was this heir apparent and how did he fit into the wider ruling family?
Adam Bailey is narrator, protagonist, antagonist, police investigator, Austro-Hungarian monarch and collaborators all rolled into one. He brings light to that single day and the players who would be known as the spark that would ignite the powder keg.
There’s a lot to unpack and without a cursory understanding of early 20th Century history you might be a little lost. Fortunately, Bailey’s story is filled with real people with real emotions, dreams, fears and motivations. You may not know why the place is filled with a myriad of religions all jostling for space, but you will certainly feel for those caught up in all of that geopolitical posturing.
– Justin Bell
The JENNY Revue
Adam Bailey makes one of the most pivotal incidents of the 20th century come to life in this look at the assassination that led to the First World War.
The Toronto performer starts with the June 28, 1914 murder of archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo and expands from there to examine the drama of the incident from various perspectives.
The principles include the driver of Ferdinand’s car, the police chief tasked with interrogating the assassin and the assassin himself, Gavrilo Princip.
Dressed in a blue shirt, striped tie and sneakers, Bailey effectively draws together the various points of view to explain what transpired that fateful day.
Sometimes narrating and sometimes assuming the role of a historical character, Bailey relies on minimal props, effective lighting and creeping music to recount the world-changing event.
The Refinery serves as an ideal venue.
Princip, who was only 19 at the time, was among a half dozen Serb nationalists whose plan to kill Ferdinand was intended to end Austro-Hungarian rule in the region.
The other would-be assassins failed despite bombs and grenades, leaving it to Princip armed with only a pistol and fate.
At times, Bailey is a historical tour de force in recounting how “a weak boy” changed European history. Occasionally, though, he seems a little overwrought.
Regardless, you cannot question his enthusiasm or his ingenuity in making history seem fresh.
— Phil Tank
A Time-Bending Story Based on True Events Premiering at The Winnipeg Fringe, and Then Heading to Saskatoon and Edmonton
Written & Performed by Adam Bailey, Directed by Tyler J. Seguin
Sound Design Created by Alex Eddington
Adam Bailey’s twisted, history-based storytelling tackles the improbable events that started a war while asking the question; what leads young men to commit acts of political violence? Using the assassination of Franz Ferdinand as a starting point Bailey dives into the world of his killer, Gavrilo Princip, and creates a theatrical feat that is thought provoking, humorous, and surprisingly empathetic. A contemporary take on an event that has clear implications for a modern audience.
Previous true-tall-tales told by Adam Bailey have gained numerous awards and multiple glowing reviews across the country including NOW Magazine’s Outstanding New Play for The Life Henri, which was also one of UMFM Radio’s favourites when it played at the Winnipeg Fringe, named as among the Best of the Best by the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix and received ★★★★★ from Edmonton’s VUE/edmontonfringe.ca. His bio-play Adam Bailey is on Fire earned ★★★★1/2 in the Edmonton Sun and a Patrons’ Pick Award in Toronto, with the Winnipeg Free Press calling it “An Almost Religious Experience”.
Joined by director Tyler J Seguin, who recently completed two seasons assistant directing at the Stratford Festival (including Treasure Island and The Tempest), and sound designer Alex Eddington, a previous Urjo Kareda Resident at Tarragon Theatre, who’s concert music has been performed internationally by ensembles including the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. This show is sure to be an entertaining addition to the must-see list of any Fringe goer looking to be challenged as well as engaged.