A Tension to Detail, by Gerard Harris, is a one-man storytelling show from a performer who brings magnetic energy to the stage.

Over the course of the show, Harris’ autobiographical stories explore the central question of why we choose to tell the stories that we do. There are myriad facts, says Harris, and he often wonders what motivates the selection of some over others, as we all live the process of composing our own origin stories.

There is no doubt that Harris knows how to work the audience. His presence on stage is like pent fire; he almost seems to vibrate with energy, even when he is sitting still.

The audience is further engaged by the material as Harris appears to lose his place and ask us where he was. I can only presume that this is intentional, because Harris naturalizes it somehow, making it feel like we’re all in this together. This was simultaneously an effective tool to get us to identify with him, and also a really powerful way of creating a sort of sadness outside the ostensible narrative of the show.

Let me explain. The show tells a number of rather normal stories about a young man growing up in a small English village and then moving to Canada as an adult with no connections or friends. There are many funny moments, and a lot of poignant or awful emotional moments, but in sum, none of these stories Harris tells us (and himself) are stories that, on their own, are going to cause us to feel the punch we need. Harris’ performance, however speaks to stories outside the narrative he relates that have clearly affected him. It’s a very subtle way of making people question why Harris has chosen these precise facts to tell us, from all his stories, and subsequently to encourage them surreptitiously to ask themselves about their own myth-making.

The stories we hear are like the bright shiny bits of a comet that light up the sky when the earth passes through the debris trail. The dark central body of the comet however, has evidence in Harris’s performance; it is hinted at and no more, and that left me to work out the rest on my own.

All in all, Harris delivers a deeply funny performance that might trick you into thinking about how we create meaning through narrative in our own lives. It’s the sort of thing you need to be tricked into sometimes. Don’t miss this magnetic stage presence. This show sent me on an introspective journey; it made me think, and moreover, it made me feel. In my world, that makes A Tension to Detail worthy of high praise indeed.

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