Let’s Start A Country, which plays at the Tarragon Mainspace as part of the Toronto Fringe Festival, is a communal, theatrical experience in which an audience works together to create their own country, separate from Canada, with guidance from Gerard Harris and Al Lafrance.
The concept is a fun one and Harris and Lafrance are affable enough that they are able to motivate a group of strangers to really come together and engage and play along. There are some great elements here, the idea of creating our own flag, and there are really interesting anecdotes about small groups of people who have achieved independence from a larger nation.
Yet, there is much unexplored potential for this show. As Canadians we are all familiar with the concept of Separatism and this play gives ample opportunity for Lafrance and Harris to offer a biting satire of Canadian politics— offering the audience reasons why they should want to leave Canada (Stephen Harper, Mike Duffy and Justin Bieber being three obvious examples) and then also exploring the very real challenges that emerge once a small group of people have attained their sovereignty. There is a little bit of that in this show, but the stakes don’t feel real enough.
It’s a fun Fringe game, but it doesn’t leave the audience with a strong, lasting impression.
TWISI FRINGE RATING: