Harper Girl hits the Fringe

Miss Ruby Jones is heart broken. Her "babelicious" Stephen Harper has betrayed her.

Wearing a blue shirt and black cardigan with her red-brown hair spread around her shoulders, Jones stood on the stage of Toronto's Theatre Passe Muraille at this year's Fringe Festival, looked out to a sold-out crowd and professed her love for Harper's steel grey eyes and how, "he never actually looks at you." He spends millions on "that terrorist war" but never takes Jones out to dinner.

In "Harper Girl Does Canada," Miss Ruby Jones (aka Rusa Jeremic) uses extreme sarcasm and wit to let the world know how "Harpercritical" Canada's Prime Minister is.

Jones, an e-celebrity who made a splash on the Web during Canada's fall 2008 election, is also the self-appointed president of the Stephen Harper Fan Club. Her HarperGirl website is full of kitschy scrapbook images dedicated to Harper's whereabouts and actions. One collage called "ObamaGate: Stephen's in big trouble" features a red heart with "BFFs 4EVER!!" between images of Harper and former U.S. president George W. Bush. Jones' video blogs, which are incorporated in the play, help her craft a satirical ode to Harper.

At the beginning of the play, Jones sits in front of her laptop and starts a video blog only to say, "it's too much to bear, I don't even know how to defend you." Jones cries she feels utterly hurt by the man she learned how to knit cashmere sweaters for after she saw him wear them during the election. Jones' crafty use of satire facilitates her political purpose -- outing the real man behind Harper's carefully sculpted media image.

Throughout the play, Jones' paean to Harper also touches on timely issues like the Liberal/Bloc/NDP "leftist-terrorist coalition" and Obama's closure of Gitmo. Jones' stage presence is so vibrant she convinces the audience she is genuinely, hopelessly in love with Harper. Although she acknowledges all of his wrong doings -- including cutting pay equity and social services -- Jones defends her man, believing he knows what's best.

But it's an article in Maclean's that revealed Harper's budget deficit that pushes Jones over the edge. This is play's climax when Jones starts a full-fledge criticism on Harper and his conservative agenda. Spending $12 billion on infrastructure? That's no good for Ruby, "How many bridges can one man build?" she asks the audience. She feels personally betrayed that her "delicious" Harper has plunged the country into deficit when for months he went on TV and said it would never happen. Yet, time and time again, Jones appears to fall under his spell. She believes that Harper's addresses are aimed directly at her, but he never gives her the time of day. At one point she stands in the middle of the stage and says, "I guess he's just not that into me...I'm so confused -- where's the ring?"

Jones' character will resonate with audiences across the country. The love theme used in the play makes her political satire accessible. By framing Harper's decisions as personal attacks to block her love, Jones is able to deliver fierce political criticism in a hilarious way.

Harper Girl Does Canada will be performed at the Calgary Fringe Festival from July 31 to August 7.

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