Rob Salerno is Fucking Stephen Harper. In fact, he has been Fucking Stephen Harper across the country from coast to coast and now that he is in Halifax at the Atlantic Fringe Festival, he is encouraging audiences here to do the same.
The premise of Salerno’s one man show is that he is promoting his bestselling book that chronicles how he sexually assaulted the 22nd Prime Minister of Canada and saved democracy. What Salerno seeks to do throughout this hour long show is to share his gay obsession with politics with the rest of us and make a strong case for why we should understand and care about these issues as ardently as he does.
He does so most effectively through his quick-witted humour and heaps of self deprecation. He presents himself as a rising Queer journalist, committed to looking critically at the issues that are often ignored or marginalized by the mainstream media, and landing the much sought after exclusive Stephen Harper interview for X-Tra. The problem is, of course, that Stephen Harper hates addressing questions from the media and he craftily goes out of his way to avoid any interaction whatsoever with the LGTB Community.
What is a young and persistent gay political junkie to do? While I won’t ruin the details of Salerno’s “sexual assault” on Harper, I will say that the underlying issue, of the wild and desperate lengths Canadians have to go if they really want Harper to have to address their issue resonates loudly and for a country like Canada that is supposed to be ruled by the will of the people for the good of all the people, it is very sad.
There is lots of good stuff in this piece, an effective use of slides that bring the political figures Salerno speaks about to more vivid life, as well as providing lots of fun opportunities to poke fun at politicians from across the spectrum. Salerno does not even hold Jack Layton sacred, which elicited a vocal reaction from our audience and when Salerno said, “Too soon?” Someone yelled back, “Yes!” Awesome. Our political discourse is starting! The best part about this show is that the majority of it is based entirely in truth and the absurdities of something like the Facebook Group I Got Hit On By John Baird is even more wild and ridiculous as the bits that Salerno has invented.
I think that Salerno would really benefit from working on this piece with a really strong director and to turn it into a high-paced, high-confidence, high-intensity infomercial for the book. At the moment Salerno has the tendency to pace and he gets casual about his words which lowers the stakes of the performance and loses the efficiency of his sales pitch. There is so much to play with in the idea of the selling of this book and I think it could go hand in hand with how effectively he has explained it.
Fucking Stephen Harper is a noble cause and I think with a punched up delivery Salerno can really rile his audiences up as though they were at a rally and inspire them to go forth as more interested and invested politically-minded citizens.
FUCKING STEPHEN HARPER plays at the Pier 21 Museum Bronfman Theatre at the following times:
TODAY Thursday September 6th: 7:30pm
It is $10.00; to book tickets please visit this website or call (902) 999-7469 or visit the Box Office at the Seaport Farmers’ Market at Pavilion 20 on Marginal Road. Tickets are also available at the venue A HALF HOUR before the show. Happy Fringe!
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