Stephen Bailey: Neon Heart

Stephen Bailey—all silver dickie bow tie, floral grey suit and camp demeanour—is clearly in love with love and romance. It’s why his show is called Neon Heart, for one thing; and why the occasional warm-up guy for Loose Women audiences is not quite so good when it comes to breaking up with and forgiving his ex-boyfriends.

This is an entertaining enough way to spend an hour in the afternoon.

Bailey comes across as a good natured young man, with the kind of well-balanced “lovely” family which would normally be the death of any comedy routine. Just scratch the surface, though, and thankfully there’s at least the hint of some unresolved familial conflicts—not least the fact that his mother allegedly keeps a large picture of his sister and pet dog in what used to be his bedroom, but is now her “office” following his career move from Manchester to London.

Yet, while there are occasions when Bailey is clearly trying to come across as a bitchy gay—when talking about his first romance, age 15-18 (aka, the “High School Musical Years”); his protective dad taking him as a child to an audition for the musical Annie; or his general attitude to ex-boyfriends (“I hate them, and blame them.”)—the punchlines just don’t seem to land with sufficient emotional impact. In contrast, a potentially interesting family dynamic—“My Dad loves me, he’s just not proud of it”—is cast aside far too promptly.

Given that its still early in the run of his debut solo Edinburgh Fringe show, it’s possible to forgive Bailey for nervously checking his watch every 10-15 minutes, though the uncharitable might wonder if he’s not quite sure that he has enough time or material for the rest of his hour slot. Confidence will come with practice, however, and—a somewhat overcooked moral message at the close notwithstanding—this is an entertaining enough way to spend an hour in the afternoon.

Reviews by Paul F Cockburn

Multiple Venues

Nests

★★★
Dundee Rep Theatre / Macrobert Arts Centre

The Yellow on the Broom

★★★
Underbelly, Bristo Square

Tom Neenan: It's Always Infinity

★★★★
Assembly George Square Studios

Police Cops in Space

★★★★★
Gilded Balloon Rose Theatre

Rik Carranza: Still a Fan

★★★★
Gilded Balloon Rose Theatre

Marmite

★★★★

Performances

Location

The Blurb

Sharp and sassy, Stephen Bailey (from Celebrity Big Brother's Bit On The Side) makes his highly anticipated Edinburgh solo debut. This is a warm and funny show about finding the one, breaking up, handling it with dignity (or lack thereof) and getting back out there, just like Katy Perry with a world tour (but on a budget). If Carrie Bradshaw was doing the Fringe, this would be her Sex and the Witty. **** (TheGayUK.com). 'Packed with observations' (BroadwayBaby.com). If you've ever been on a date, this is your story too.