COMEDY NiNa CONti: talk tO thE haND Pleasance Dome (Venue 23) HHHHH
With this supremely crowdpleasing show, Nina Conti takes ventriloquism about as far as it can conceivably go, whetting anticipation for future Fringe offerings if only to learn whether it’s possible for her to surpass herself. the comic’s postmodern banter with her chief puppet, the foulmouthed Monk, begins almost immediately, the world-weary simian complaining bitterly of her interjections (“Must you deconstruct every line?”).
i’ve occasionally wondered if Monk would be more effective if he didn’t swear quite so frequently. But that’s to judge harshly the exceptional adlibbing skills Conti applies to what are effectively three-way conversations between the audience and the voices in her head. A chat show element introduces a different festival guest every night, a slightly clunking routine on the evening i caught it with Jewish mothers Ronna and Beverly, but at least it had the virtue of clearly not being scripted.
A new puppet, Leonard the Owl, belies his mellifluous tones, urbane, schoolmasterly air and poetic inclinations, to aggressively woo a lady. Yet Conti’s best character proves to be her own Edinburgh granny, a delightful old dear seeking to channel the spirit of her late husband, showcasing some impressive mind-reading skills on the part of her granddaughter in the process. Another new creation, Lydia, doesn’t have a persona yet. So Conti solicits accent suggestions, with variable success, though when she nails it, as with her broad Glaswegian, it’s priceless. her big, penultimate routine is an absolute belter, inducing audience members to become puppets themselves, speaking on their behalf in a manner that’s uproariously hilarious. All is not quite as it seems however, and there’s a certain coup de
théâtre employed. She closes sharing a duet with her granny, a seemingly impossible task that Conti nevertheless pulls off with mischievous mastery.
Until 30 August. Today 8:30pm.
Nina Conti’s best character proves to be her Edinburgh granny