Nina Conti: In Your Face Review
Monday 15th August 2016
The Pleasance Grand
If you’re not familiar with Nina Conti, then the premise of her act might surprise you – she’s a ventriloquist who uses audience members as her puppets. But, how is that even possible? Well, she has an array of masks for her victims that allow her to put words in their mouths with the squeeze of a button. The result is a completely improvised show that won’t be the same two nights in a row – perfect for the Edinburgh Fringe.
The Pleasance Grand is packed to the rafters tonight, demonstrating that it doesn’t matter what night of the week it is when it’s the Fringe. Conti takes to the stage a little later than planned to allow for the masses to pile in, but doesn’t waste any time in introducing her faithful sidekick to the show – Monkey. If you remember Little Monkey Lost (I had two), then her assistant may look familiar. Conti uses Monkey as a more conventional means of ventriloquism, mocking both herself and the audience with her sharp-talking friend. It’s only when Conti climbs into a bag to let Monkey take over the show that it starts to get unpredictable.
Monkey asks the audience for questions and gets the likes of “Do you like kebabs?” and “Do you have a girlfriend?” Little do they know that they’re volunteering to join Conti onstage when she reappears from the bag and sets Monkey aside. Tonight, Conti is joined by two men and two women, whose voices range from French to Brumie to American, showcasing the range of accents she is capable of. Conti likes to use their occupations as inspiration and latches onto the fact that one of the men is a window cleaner, which leads to a hysterical scene of forming a human window for him to clean.
Undoubtedly, the highlight of Conti’s show is her infectious laugh. She isn’t afraid to enjoy her own jokes and genuinely seems surprised at what happens, as she couldn’t possibly know what awaits her every night. To some comedians, this would be utterly terrifying, but it’s evident that Conti is having the time of her life onstage and thrives off the excitement of the unknown. Her show is only amplified by participants who take their moment to shine and join in with actions to help her characterisation. While some need hints from Conti to help her out, others throw themselves into the show with hilarious enthusiasm that has the Pleasance Grand in stitches.
Once she lets her puppets return to their seats, Monkey reappears to end the show on a high by taking over Conti’s body. The change epitomises how effortless Conti makes her act look, as well as highlighting how strange it really is to voice a toy monkey… If you’re looking for a show that’s guaranteed to make your sides split with laughter, then let Nina Conti get in your face!