Patrick Miller: Chaos

Note: This review is from 2013

Review by Steve Bennett

Patrick Miller starts by rather earnestly explaining Chaos Theory and the butterfly effect. As he talks he pricks his finger on an impressive cactus that adorns the stage; an apparently small action that, appropriately enough, has big consequences on the rest of the hour.

For there’s hallucinogenic mescaline in those spines, causing him to believe that he’s been taken over by the spirit of the plant, who turns out to be a malevolent Peruvian called Pablo Escobar.

It’s just one of several strong comic characters Miller inhabits in a show that appears to embrace the idea of chaos firmly, but ultimately makes a strange sort of sense as the strands interweave and ideas returned to, creating a satisfying whole. The show also carries a moral about climate change at the end, which is only slightly contrived.

That might sound like the ingredients for a weird show, but at its heart Chaos is a traditional character comedy hour, just cleverly constructed. Along the route we meet such diverse figures as a distinguished psychiatrist, a petulant teenager thrown out of a choir for terrible singing and even the pesky butterfly himself.

Comfortable in these creations, Miller has an archness to his performance, but also a light touch which accentuates the comedy without taking the already exaggerated characters into the realm of over-the-top. The result is great, unpredictable fun – and the fact Miller seems to be enjoying himself while trying to maintain a poker-face is infectious.

His intimidating alien overlord is his greatest creation: although mute, he can command the audience to do his bidding with little more than an accusatory stare. It’s one of several interactions with the punters, all of which carry a joyful element of pantomime.

The script doesn’t overlook the need for solid punchlines, either, and although there are moments when the show stalls (and costume changes mean the momentum is inevitably stop-start), this is a rewarding offering from one of the festival’s lesser-known names. Lesser-known for now, that is...

Review date: 21 Apr 2013
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Melbourne International Comedy Festival

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