Adam Bailey is on Fire is the critically acclaimed, fast paced comedy about growing up the Gay Son of an Evangelical Christian Minister.
WINNER: TORONTO FRINGE FESTIVAL PATRON’S PICK
4 Stars: The Vue
We’ve all heard the story of the gay Christian who comes of age in the big city, but Adam Bailey’s tale feels like a high-speed rip through suburbia, turning from hilarious to heartfelt to hopeful at breakneck speeds. Bailey is a quick-witted and flexible storyteller, working to connect with his audience. He sucks you right into what was happening with this personable, conspiratorial stage presence, keeping you in on the jokes and heartache, the constant struggle for identity when you’re spilt between two very different worlds. Everywhere that it could have been cloying or cliché, this production was inventive and honest. — Sarah Culkin
4.5 Stars Edmonton Sun
Growing up knowing you’re gay can bring about many emotions and pressures and anxieties of being able to come out to those who love you. Now imagine trying to do it as the son of an Evangelical priest and hearing sermons every Sunday about the evils of homosexuality.
Adam Bailey shares his personal journey of his incredibly difficult experience, and he does it in a way that had his audience laughing — but also entrenched to the emotional side of his story.
You can immediately tell that he’s the son of a preacher. He starts out his performance sharing what his church’s communion was like. He shared a loaf of bread and Welch’s grape juice and at one point in his performance he played a game called “Lets Challenge the Devout.”
While at times he took the comedic approach to get his message across, there’s the darker side of a young man who struggles with the ability to come out to his family. It pushes him further and further away. His trips home, become few and far between.
When he arrives at university, he feels like this will be the perfect opportunity to explore his sexuality. But, he quickly realizes that the dating scene in the homosexual world will take a lot to get used to.
After experiening love and heartbreak early on, he struggles with the lifestyle. He at one point gets just as comfortable in a bath house as he did in his local church communion, experimenting with cocaine, “poppers” and “rebound sex”.
It wasn’t until he came home for the funeral for his grandfather that he comes to the realization that he needs to come to grips with his life. He needs to find comfort in his sexuality, and reconcile with his family.
Bailey does a great job portraying the friction and the struggles his family endured, and you finally see him at peace when he comes home with his fiancee ready to “come out” to his family — and he realizes that his family will still accept him.
This play is a great example how people’s views are changing for the better when it comes to LGBT community, but there are struggles that have come with it, and it was great to have Bailey share his experience with us.
4.5/5 – Jason Hills
ADAM BAILEY IS ON FIRE
REVIEW BY JOSHUA JAMES COLLIS – SHOWBILL.CA EDITOR (VICTORIA)
September 1, 2016
Adam Bailey burns alive as he glows with brilliant exuberance to find a rock on which to build his church. It’s a story of growing up the gay son of a devout musical director of their church gathering.
Adam Bailey is on Fire stars the titular performer as he sings, dances and even strips his way to conveying the universal emotions within his work. Anyone who has ever felt alienation, discrimination or been the brunt of parent’s expectations needs to give this show a look.
This isn’t a straightforward one-man show as Bailey utilizes surreal vignettes of preachers and game shows to convey his feelings of isolation and discrimination.
The show builds towards the eventual scene where Adam finally comes out to his father, but it’s noticeably absent. But maybe that is the point; in its place is a different revelation that perhaps serves as the real crux of this emotional powerhouse.
Laugh and cry with Adam Bailey as he discovers himself sexually, emotionally and that he isn’t alone on this world of isolations.
The Bottom Line
Adam Bailey is on Fire is more than an important piece of LGBTQ theatre. The themes incorporated within this comedy/drama are so universal, you can’t help feel the highs of sorrow and lows of joy.
Fringe review: Adam Bailey is on Fire
3 stars out of 5
Stage 7, Yardbird Suite
In case you were ever in any doubt, being gay and the son of an evangelical Christian minister isn’t easy, as Adam Bailey’s one-man confessional chronicles. Eternal damnation gives a certain added drama to the perpetual coming-of-age tensions of self-discovery.
The friendly, elfin Toronto writer/director/cabaret artist recounts growing up with a dad who believes that homosexuality is a one-way ticket to the fires of hell. Under the circumstances, there can be no such thing as a casual throwaway parental question like, “Soooo, seeing anyone special?”
The road from church to bathhouse is paved in evasions. After all, it’s not as though you can make much headway arguing against religious certainty: in an amusing sequence, Bailey imagines a spirited, and impossibly tilted, game show called Let’s Challenge The Devout. With its double-entendre title, Bailey’s memoir takes the small-town kid from grape juice communion (he gives us a sample) and speaking in tongues into a brave new world of poppers, “rebound sex,” and no commitment.
Is compromise, even rapprochement, possible? As Bailey tells it, yes, which seems like an oversimplification. Falling in love with the right guy and getting married — along with relatives who relent — can assist with this, true. The show is a little formless and meandering, in truth. But the performance by this puckish urchin of a guy is agreeably user-friendly.
Winnipeg Free Press Review (3Stars & 4Stars)
Adam Bailey is on fire because he is gay and the son of an evangelical music minister who believes that homosexuality is a sin that leads straight to hell. This true, one-man story by a Toronto writer-performer of the same name seeks to suggest that there is a little heaven to be found within the LBGT community.
Bailey, dressed all in black, was an outsider from the time he couldn’t speak in tongues like the other kids in his father’s church and then couldn’t stop looking at other boys in the school gym dressing room.
His account of his life, although well-told, is not especially exceptional but that he can tell it is an almost religious experience, during which he passes around bread and grape juice as a substitute for wine.
— Kevin Prokosh
CBC Review (3 Stars)
Adam Bailey knows his way around a bible group, and he knows his way around a bath house. In his new play, he traces his personal journey from one world to the other with all the charisma and energy you’d expect of a minister’s son.
Bailey was raised in an evangelical church where he heard sermons against homosexuality so often he could recite them from memory, and prayed not to be gay.
Of course things got complicated when he came out.
His story flies by like a church service on speed. He keeps things lively by kicking off with communion, and playing a lightning round of a game show called “Let’s Challenge The Devout.” The fast pace keeps things from getting maudlin but it also keeps us from getting to fully connect with some of the key characters.
In the final scenes, the script segues away from the heart of the story, and the show sputters. But overall, Adam Bailey is On Fire has spark.
Mooney on Theatre Review (Toronto Fringe 2016) NICOLE HUNNERSEN
(This Show was A Top 3 Personal Favourite in 2016)
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.”