Edinburgh review: Nina Conti – In Your Face (Pleasance Theatre)

The comedienne returns to the Fringe with her unique take on ventriloquism

Nina Conti
Nina Conti
© Idil Sukan

You've likely seen Nina Conti on your telly over the last few years, she's the one with the monkey who's made ventriloquism cool again, and she's back with a new must-see show at this year's Edinburgh Fringe.

Conti starts by informing us that 95 per cent of the show is improvised based on information she gains from her adoring audience. Standard Edinburgh fare, but this comedienne is a cut above all the rest when it comes to picking and manipulating her victims.

After a quick survey of the front row, ably assisted by her potty-mouthed puppet Monkey, she calls a power plant engineer up on stage. Fitted with a moving mask that Conti has complete control of, the engineer becomes a living ventriloquist doll and proceeds to act out his day-to-day duties. Except Conti knows absolutely nothing about the role of a power plant engineer and so hilarity ensues.

This is repeated in various guises with other members of the audience; a fitness instructor sings a song on the guitar (upside down) about her useless architect husband, a whole family celebrate their mum's birthday by doing some lunges.

The genius in this act is that we all love to laugh at our peers doing silly stuff, most of the time they're not actually that funny, but with Conti in control they gain her quick wit and improvisational prowess, the mundanity of everyday life becomes instantly watchable.

The act is equally as funny when Nina, daughter of Tom Conti, is on stage on her own, riffing with her right hand. She's a class act and one you'd be a fool to miss.

Nina Conti: In Your Face runs at Pleasance Courtyard at 8pm until 28 August (not 16).

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