Often, I think people mistake going to the theatre as being an entirely passive experience. It is, after all, not the art of running or the art of doing, it is the art of seeing. A show like Gerard Harris’ A Tension to Detail, which plays at the Museum of Natural History, as part of the Atlantic Fringe Festival, is an ardent reminder that being an active audience member watching great theatre can be an exhilarating experience. Hold onto your hats and buckle your seat belts.
Harris is rapid, catapulting energy, reminiscent of someone like Robin Williams or Robert Munsch, who jam packs his stories with comedy and charm and builds and builds and builds toward a heart-racing, beat the clock, storytelling sprint. The show is very personal, it’s captivating and insightful and often hilariously funny. It sometimes wanders into dark territory, but Harris creates a safe space that makes those moments okay. Ultimately, A Tension to Detail is also a sort of love letter to storytelling, an exploration of the form of the idea of one person connecting to an audience in a way that is very old, but entirely immediate.
A Tension to Detail plays at the Museum of Natural History (1747 Summer Street) at the following times:
Monday September 7th – 7:00PM
Tuesday September 8th – 9:40PM
Wednesday September 9th – 7:55PM
Thursday September 10th – 8:10PM
Friday September 11th – 6:30PM
Saturday September 12th – 4:35PM
Sunday September 13th- 4:25PM
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:
Let’s Start a Country plays at the Tarragon Theatre Mainspace (30 Bridgman Avenue) as part of the Toronto Fringe Festival at the following times:
July 10 at 12:00 PM buy tickets
July 11 at 06:15 PM buy tickets
July 12 at 04:00 PM buy tickets