UnoFest 2012: The Adversary

28 05 2012
Andrew Bailey is The Adversary.

Andrew Bailey is The Adversary.

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 

**Showing Monday, May 28 at 6:30PM and Tuesday, May 29 at 8:00PM at the Intrepid Theatre Club (1609 Blanshard).  Tickets are $16 and are available at

UnoFest 2012: The Birdmann

25 05 2012
The Birdmann

Trent Baumann is The Birdmann.

The Birdmann has already been called a lot of things in this town—words like ‘oddball’, ‘mind-blowing’ and ‘surreal’.  Returning to the city for a victory lap on the Uno stage, 2011’s Pick of the Fringe is just as rambunctious the second time round.

The show itself is a bit Seinfeld-meets-vaudevillian sketch in its eccentric take on nothingness but, more than anything, Birdmann is a giggle-worthy hour of silly and spectacularly-enacted joy.

Performer Trent Baumann has deftly blended a maze of observational one-liners with frat house party tricks that he brings new life to under the lens of absurdity.  It helps that he also possesses a knack for flawless physical comedy rivaled only by his ability to pull off skinny, skinny jeans.

Underneath all of this tightly-scripted showmanship is a jumble of plot points: amongst others, the plastic bag problem in our oceans, parental advice on the bare essentials of life and the benefits of meditation.  Having said that, my big takeaway was much simpler: The Birdmann is an exercise in play, in reclaiming childlike instincts (the ones that throw utensils across a room or, say, pour liquids through nostrils) to reinterpret the oddities that are put before us at any age.

If there’s a bigger message, I missed it between all of the laughs.  — Melanie Tromp Hoover

**One more show on Friday, May 25, 7:00 PM at the Metro Studio (1411 Quadra).  Tickets are $18/$19, available at

UnoFest 2012: Four Quartets

25 05 2012

Deborah Dunn in a scene from Four Quartets.

In Four Quartets, Deborah Dunn—famed across Canada for her prose-inspired dance pieces—brings a stylish new energy to T.S. Eliot’s brooding poetry of the same name. 

Designed as a temporal study of the human condition, this piece is ultimately a story of contrast.  Eliot’s opus—and, by extension, Dunn’s brave choreography—dabbles in beginnings and endings, in stillness and movement and in spirituality versus the impact of earth’s most physical elements.

In short, there’s a lot going on. 

Add to these themes a layer of metered language in voiceover interfacing with movement and the audience is asked to tackle a lot in 60 minutes.  Even with a sparse set free of distraction, it took much of the first quarter to settle into the consuming pace of synchronized listening and watching.

But Dunn’s strength as a dancer—in both precision and in potency itself—is as impressive as it is enduring.  There’s a moment in the first poem where a wash of red light isolates every muscle in Dunn’s naked back—an image of vulnerability, perhaps, but also a testament to the physical possibilities of the human body despite Eliot’s view that “humankind cannot bear very much of reality.”

The moments when Dunn’s choreography becomes a literal picture of Eliot’s language are the only soft spots in an otherwise clever mash-up of form and function.  Delivered with wit and decisive grace, Dunn’s quartets are an elegant contribution to the UnoFest lineup.     — Melanie Tromp Hoover   

**One more show on Friday, May 25, 8:30 PM at the Metro Studio (1411 Quadra).  Tickets are $18/$19, available at  Full details on the UnoFest website.

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