There's lots of clever anti-Harper activism in the work of the Department of Culture, a group of artists and arts supporters who are actively working to counter the evisceration of arts funding and other Conservative follies.
In addition to keeping tabs of the Tory nonsense and reactions to it, they held a successful dance, This Is NOT A Conservative Party, last Thursday (October 9) at the Phoenix.
But some of their most entertaining work - hey, they are artists - is a series of short videos written and performed by some of Toronto's best theatre creators. Called Bad Dates With Stephen Harper, the dozen or so videos tackle in a fashion that's both sobering and laughable the many issues that plague the Conservative leader and his government - among them arts cuts, the status of women, the GST, native issues and food safety.
All the speakers are former dates of Harper's who wouldn't want to go through the experience again.
Oh, and the series also looks at the "ordinary" Canadian - whatever that means. The adjective is about as definable as word as "normal."
You might start with that last video, written by Rick Roberts and performed by Pippa Domville, whose initially excited character learns that the condescending Harper's not exactly open to the arts.
Another winner is writer Alex Poch-Goldin's clip dealing with ethnic groups and women, with Christine Brubaker as the increasingly disillusioned date.
How about Harper's first date, where he'd rather pinch pennies and play with his calculator instead of his partner, performed by Liz Saunders in Richard Sanger's script?
Maybe the most chilling is the video written and performed by Rosa Laborde, playing a feverish Harper cast-off who knows that she'll be back in his dating roster before too long.
Or check out the traumas the Tories face when dealing with minorities, with Pamela Sinha performing Michael Healey's script.
The quality is high throughout, with additional videos written by Linda Griffiths, Alex Pugsley, Diane Flacks and Yvette Nolan. Among the other performers are Lyne Tremblay, Beatriz Yuste, Fides Krucker and Clinton Walker. Since these clips are all about bad dates, I wish Walker's segment, the only one performed by a guy, had at least suggested a closeted Harper, in addition to the portrait of a young, initially promising politician.
The videos are either horrifyingly comical or comically horrifying, depending on where you want to put the emphasis.