Comedy review: Nina Conti: Dolly Mixtures, Pleasance Dome (Venue 23), Edinburgh

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Ventriloquist Nina Conti has a complex psychological relationship with her puppets. And that’s never been more glaringly apparent.

Nina Conti: Dolly Mixtures

Pleasance Dome (Venue 23)

Star rating: * * *

After some banter with the front rows featuring her oldest character, Monkey, she introduces her first new creation – her daughter, or rather herself as an eight-year-old girl.

Afflicted by performance anxiety and unable to understand the allusions tumbling from her mouth, Conti plays up the cruel, exploitative edge to their bond. But there’s a leaden bit of audience participation that presages much of what follows.

Rehabilitated pitbull Killer is initially very funny, a hyperactive, flamboyant hound who’s had to degrade himself in terrible ways to survive. But the joke wears thin as it takes an age to reach his savagely funny denouement.

Her least effective character is a flirtatious Spaniard, an outsize prop for self-flattery, both seducer and abused in a three-way romp with a reluctant volunteer. A forced romance between two more dupes, their faces fixed with blabbermouth face masks, is simply too widespread a gimmick for Conti to be resorting to. And her pensioner character John, longing for death, is just morbid, ending the show on an inexplicable, downbeat note.

Until 27 August. Today 8:30pm.