Boisterous, erudite, charismatic showman Adam Bailey premieres his latest one-person show: The Truth! or The Truth™ or, particularly grandiose, Adam Bailey’s The Truth™! The formatting of this show’s title is not consistent, which seems an appropriate metaphor for the show itself, wrestling as it does with the form, structure, and purpose of the truth.
Consistently engaging and somewhat manic in his delivery, Bailey has intense enthusiasm to share information! He seems always on the verge of getting ahead of himself, barely able to contain the punchline, the point. By his own admission, he is still the same keener kid irritating his classmates with knowledge, always so annoyingly right about everything.
Betraying an abundance of solid research, he re-frames his own experiences and grounds them in a variety of historical contexts. It’s all very educational in a way that feels natural and compelling. Among his many strengths as a writer and performer, I really appreciate his talent for relaying information, helping us to better understand how our current attitudes and belief systems are a product of history. The Stonewall riots, Alcoholics Anonymous, Sunlight dishsoap, even Samuel L. Jackson and those mother-f-ing Snakes On A Plane figure into this monologue—these seemingly disparate references all linked to an intimate, experiential awareness of how truth is an amorphous, shifting landscape.
Bailey uses Plato’s allegory of The Cave to guide this anecdotal meditation on the complex ways we interpret the world around us. What is true? How does that truth relate to its shadow? It’s an iconic philosophical text and a comfortingly familiar image, allowing Bailey to delve into the weeds of an overwhelming, precarious concept like the truth without it being too meandering.
One of my favourite segments deals with aforementioned Stonewall protests from 1969. He reveals a set of four props—ruby slippers, a shot glass, a molotov cocktail and a brick. Each of these tokens signify a different invented mythology for how this queer revolution began. Without spoiling the details: He examines how hard facts are often less important to us than our crafted truths. He shows us how stories—with their emotional resonance—help shape our attitudes and behaviour far more effectively than mere facts.
Facts are important, though, and Bailey shares some with us. He acknowledges the complex relationship between stories and facts. Relating a variety of personal interactions in which his facts have landed him in hot water with friends, we are invited to recognize our own deep need to internalize our truths and how distressing it is to have those personal mythologies challenged.
There is a certain academic appeal to Bailey’s The Truth!, with ample references to didactic tidbits like classifications of lies and technical terms for a whole host of phenomena, but it is his dynamically casual sense of theatrical engagement that sells it! His finale—a surprisingly moving account of a camping trip—does a fine job of encapsulating the key ideas of this presentation in a way that plays on our emotional connection to, well, those human truths.