Welcome to The Cage. Our host for the evening is one Right Honourable Prime Minister Stephen Harper — his likeness captured, humour-less smile and all, in a ginormous papier-mâché head worn by an actor clad in a cheap suit. He’s pissed that the country has turned on him in the wake of Toronto’s riotous g20 summit. “Everyone hates me,” he says, “Even the Toronto Sun. And they love me.”
Thing is, he doesn’t really care. Our great leader is joined onstage by a magical Quebecois cat, the night’s wisecracking jester and guide to all Harperisms. The cat also plays the part of press galley reporter, lobbing Harper-approved softballs — “Do you like Tim Hortons? Have you ever gotten by with a little help from your friends?” — as a sendup to the PM’s tight grip on information. Harper even shares a few timely state secrets: “Water is our most precious resource. That’s why we have to find a way to tax the hell out of it and sell it abroad. It’s the new oil, people, the new oil.”
The audience is granted a demonstration from BDP Architects, the brains behind detention palaces such as Guantanamo Bay, the g20 holding centre and “plenty of others you’ll probably never hear about.” Their pride and joy? The innovative (re: doorless) orange defecating booth, which a thousand-odd Canadians got to experience firsthand last summer.
In between stints with Harper, we go back to the g2o detention centre with the aforementioned orange defecating booths. We’re introduced to a group of women with little in common save for their circumstance: all were arrested and shoved over capacity into tiny, mesh-wire cells that covered a vast concrete floor in an east end warehouse. Some were peacefully protesting, others had been caught up in the riots by happenstance. The group is denied regular access to water, toilet paper, food, warm clothing and an explanation for how long they’ll be stuck there. Their stories mirror the ones of the unlucky souls captured during the g20 last summer.
The play could have focussed on these stories, but I liked that they become more of a backdrop to Harper’s actions — the human pawns caught up in a leader’s emotionless scheming. I especially loved that, even though the bulk of the play is based on a year-old event, there’s plenty of topical political jokes to satisfy the civically engaged among you.
There’s also a lot of singing, and who doesn’t want to see Harper dance?
Photo, taken by Dana Lacey, is a closeup of the show poster designed by Voices on the Wind.
The Cage is playing at George Ignatieff Theatre (15 Devonshire Place, Toronto)
Thu, July 7 6:30 PM 604
Fri, July 8 10:30 PM 612
Mon, July 11 4:30 PM 628
Wed, July 13 4:00 PM 640
Thu, July 14 11:30 PM 651
Fri, July 15 7:00 PM 656
Sun, July 17 1:45 PM 667
– All individual Fringe tickets are $10 ($5 for FringeKids) at the door (cash only). Tickets are available online at www.fringetoronto.com, by phone at 416-966-1062, in person at The Randolph Centre for the Arts, 736 Bathurst Street (Advance tickets are $11 – $10+$1 convenience fee)
– Several money-saving passes are available if you plan to see at least 5 shows
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