THE MAGNIFICENT ROBERTSONS by Lisa Brooke and Alex Kane, directed by Lindsay Leese. Presented by Three R's with Bull Theatre at the Robert Gill. July 8 at 3:45 pm, July 10 at 7:30 pm, July 11 at 1 pm, July 13 at 11 pm, July 15 at noon, July 16 at 9:45 pm. Rating: NNNNN
The best comedy is based in character. However funny or clever a premise might be, if you don't have interesting people, you've got a sit without the com.
Lisa Brooke and Alex Kane came up with their The Magnificent Robertsons characters three years ago as part of Neil Muscott's Comedy Debate. Brooke plays Marsha Robertson, the nebbishy stage manager married to Kane's obviously gay amateur theatre director, Lionel.
"I think Marsha kind of knows Lionel's gay - she has a suspicion," says Brooke, who met Kane at Second City. "But they're the best of friends. She doesn't want to see what's really there."
Brooke says the two characters were born after a hilarious trip to Stratford.
"Alex is gay and out," she says. "In the lobby, he made some remark about the tickets in front of the usher and it was like a pink cloud escaped from his mouth. When the usher saw the tickets - they were good seats - she said, 'Hang on to this one!' to me. And we both wondered, 'How could anyone possibly think we were a heterosexual couple?'
"When we sat down in the theatre, we realized there were lots of other couples around us who were this same mix. Married couples where the women were probably with these men because they knew a lot about theatre."
The show is set mostly in the 1980s during a production of Lionel's ambitious vampire musical. ( Gordon Deppe from the group the Spoons composed a prototypical 80s-sounding score for the show-within-the-show.)
The eccentric cast of characters includes the community troupe's reigning leading lady ( Lisa Merchant ) and Sam Kalilieh as the token non-white actor who gets slotted into every ethnic role.
"It's like Dynasty shakes hands with The Thornbirds," says Brooke. "It's like an hour of prime-time TV from the 80s. There's power, hunger, love and greed."
And the fashions?
"Lots of trips to Value Village," laughs Brooke. "Leg warmers, early Madonna outfits. When you see Lisa Merchant, she'll really take you back. We're talking stirrup pants and shoulder pads."
THE FRINGE: TORONTO’S THEATRE FESTIVAL
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