Melbourne Fringe: Sir Robert’s Sporting Legends

MF19 Sir Robert’s Sporting LegendsThe Shane Warne Foundation intended to raise funds for ill and underprivileged children. After some point, not so much money actually went to the kids. The Foundation folded in 2017 rather than face deregistration. But, people from sport and business spheres love being associated with a “good cause”.

So, we’re at a relaunch of The Foundation – a $200 per head dinner with glitz provided by stars paid to attend. Warne personally recruited self-declared “saucy old English thespian” Sir Robert (veteran comedian Bob Franklin) to host proceedings.

We’ve seen a bit of Sir Robert on the arts festival circuit of late, with Franklin’s creation winning the 2018 Melbourne Fringe’s Best Comedy Award. In this outing, Sir Robert – who admits to a tendency to “go off-script after a few whiskies” – turns his satirical eye and droll persona towards corporate sponsorship and Australian sportsmen.

Over the course of his monologue, Sir Robert introduced three legends of Australian sport of recent times. By exposing some of their reprehensible actions, he convincingly demonstrated why they were suitable ambassadors for The Foundation.

Even if you’ve followed the news somewhat closely, it’s possible that you’ll be (at least) surprised by some of the behaviour of the elite sportsmen under discussion. In fact, given the obscene activities of one ambassador, this work might not be so enjoyable for those distressed by the mistreatment of animals.

Franklin delivered the monologue well, and made some good points on media spin and dispensation given to high-profile sportspeople, but perhaps this brand-new show could use some tightening. Often, once Sir Robert had made some point on hypocrisy or duplicity, further excavations could add little. Perhaps due to this, the work is a bit light on laughs at the moment.

However, this performance was at 6.00pm for a small audience on the first Friday of the Melbourne Fringe, which was hardly ideal for comedy. Perhaps a little more variety would help to sustain our interest. Still, there’s definitely some enjoyable lampooning in this character comedy.

Sir Robert shows himself the master of a sustained satirical dissection of double standards and how quickly indiscretions of the rich and powerful are accommodated and erased. Clearly we have a need for this kind of work, as some “charities” might be far less benevolent than we realise.

Sir Robert’s Sporting Legends
Fringe Hub: The Evatt Room – Trades Hall, Corner Lygon and Victoria Streets, Carlton
Performance: Friday 13 September 2019 – 6.00pm
Season continues to 20 September 2019
Information and Bookings:

Image: Bob Franklin as Sir Robert (supplied)

Review: Jason Whyte