★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Cheeky, charming and charismatic.
When I interviewed Stephen Bailey a month before his fifth run at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, he told me that he didn't consider himself a "Fringe act" and worried about how performing in a free venue would make him look.
But surely a "Fringe act" is someone that people want to see and someone that's well received at the Fringe? And if so, then with a queue that went out the door, down the corridor, down the stairs and even extended outside, Stephen is very much the definition.
As for the stigma around the Free Fringe, I genuinely don't believe there is one. If anything it makes the Fringe more accessible to people who might not be able to pay the prices at paid venues and I think the model where you pay nothing on the way in and what you want on the way out is perfect.
I do understand what he means though and he addresses it in his show, he tells us that his show isn't the type you'd see at the Pleasance (a venue he despises) who tells a sad story and leaves an audience with a message.
But just because those shows exist and are well received by critics, it doesn't mean they all have to be that. I love nothing more than a show that's a joy to watch from start to finish and isn't afraid to just entertain and that's exactly what Our Kid does.
Stephen's natural ability to tell stories and please a crowd is second-to-none as his cheeky, charming and charismatic style holds the audience's attention for the entire hour through outrageous flirting, proudness in his achievements and relatable tales of looking for love.
Even after his fifth show, it's clear that Stephen Bailey is just at the very start of his career. We're beginning to see him a lot more on TV which is great and if television audiences love Stephen half as much as his live audiences do then I can see him being around for a rather long time.
Will he return next year to the Fringe? He seems to think he won't, but one thing's for sure if he doesn't... he'll be missed.
Stephen Bailey: Our Kid runs until 26th August at 5:15pm at Laughing Horse @ The Free Sisters (Maggie's Front Room) as part of the Free Fringe. More details here.
(This review was based on the performance from Sunday 19th August 2018)