– Michael Healey
Canadian political satire, in the traditional sense of satire. Set in an alternate universe where the Quebec NDP Orange Crush was a Blue Crush instead, going to the Conservative party who captured the real-life majority nonetheless. “The Prime Minister” (unnamed by the play itself, but whose identity is otherwise very obvious) takes one of the rookie MPs under his wing to teach her what she needs to know about politics, covering the unflinching curriculum of all the political dirty tactics the erstwhile Harper Conservatives were known for. Rather painful hilarity ensues.
I was biased reading this because I never liked the Harper Conservatives in the first place. I recall during high school when they won their first minority on the merits of a stricter juvenile justice bill; whipping up the fears of rascally teenagers in an aging population, an appeal to emotion at the expense of teens who weren't even allowed to vote against them in protest. (That was my own “welcome to politics” moment...) However, the Harper in this play is not quite the same amoral monster who roams our collective imaginations. This satirical version makes the attempt to appear sympathetic at times—especially in Scene 5, which is my favourite moment in the work—yet still remains almost unaware how far the swollen depths of his own nihilism truly extends.
This play was originally almost banned from production due to libel chill from the Conservative Heritage Minister, and their meddling with the Canada Arts Council's theatre funding. I think it could be revived with better chances as a readable book, but only if it comes equipped with a bibliography and research appendix. (Which it currently sorely lacks.) Grounding in some historical basis is necessary, lest the play be woefully misinterpreted like a Machiavellian prince; a very real risk this play will have in the long run. We need less Harpers in this world, not more.