Review: Patrick Marlborough: Killing Rove – Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2022 (VIC)

Review by Martha Latham

For a show that begins by splitting its audience into three groups named after terrorist cell Boko Haram, the “great state of Israel” and a mining giant, Patrick Marlborough does an admirable job of keeping everyone onside for a full hour.

Killing Rove McManus  is a kind of nostalgic fever dream of 2000s television. The play begins with a pre-recorded revisionist version of history that makes Paul McDermott responsible for 9/11 and ends with the murder of Rove McManus, plunging the world into chaos. After this, the audience is introduced to Patrick, who explains that he is resurrected Rove McManus, and an AI version of Peter Helliar, who explains that Patrick is not a resurrected Rove McManus.

The work was absolutely bonkers to experience. Splitting the play into both a live and AV element offered Patrick the ability to tell some really complex and unique jokes that would be impossible in the wrong hands. In fact, the whole play beautifully melds live and pre-recorded comedy in a way that really does feel fresh, with the pre-recorded elements adding production value and Marlborough maintaining the authenticity and liveness of the performance. The AI Peter Helliar, along with a huge collection of 2000’s video bites are hilariously interspersed throughout and become almost like a second character; the Hannibal Buress to Marlborough’s Eric Andre. The only technical element that falls flat is the cheap Madonna mic (an unfortunately common occurrence at this year’s comedy festival), which kept popping and having feedback, ruining the timing and intelligibility of a lot of the jokes.

The work does push the limits too far on a number of occasions. From calling Hannah Gadsby a slur to some pretty haphazard use of 9/11, Hey Hey it’s Saturday’s Blackface and genocide in Israel; Patrick Marlborough is not afraid to put his audience on the back foot. Despite this, it never feels cruel or “edgy”. Instead, each moment feels like an insight into Marlborough’s brain. A brain which is unfortunately filled with a ton of Perth references that 90% of the audience didn’t understand. We’re glad the Western Australian audiences can visit again, but the references were best left at Perth Fringe.

The piece ends with a beautifully edited 20-minute replay of 2000s television that will have your nostalgia nerves firing. Killing Rove McManus knows what it is and, if you’ve read any of the marketing, you are probably know what it is too. It never tries to be anything it’s not and maintains a consistent sense of style, attitude and charm from start to finish. Rove McManus may be dead (not really but you know what I mean) but, thanks to Marlborough’s loving homage, his spirit lives on. 

Reviewer Rating:

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Killing Rove played at the Melbourne Comedy Festival from 11th -17th April 2022. You can out more about Patrick Marlborough on his website.

You can also follow Patrick on Instagram @cormac_mccafe

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