COM­EDY NiNa CONti: talk tO thE haND Plea­sance Dome (Venue 23) HHHHH

The Scotsman - - Fringereviews Hotshow -

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.

JaY RiChaRDsON

Un­til 30 Au­gust. To­day 8:30pm.

Nina Conti’s best char­ac­ter proves to be her Ed­in­burgh granny

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