VENTRILOQUISM is just holding a puppet and making it appear to talk while keeping your mouth as still as possible, right?
Nina Conti - Tron Theatre, Glasgow
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Well, not in the innovative world of Nina Conti. She may have started out in the vent business conservatively enough with a potty-mouthed monkey sidekick, but she has continued to explore ways of playing with the form and attracting new audiences (young, female) to a genre that sometimes feels trapped in a middle-aged, male universe.
In Your Face is the next stage in that development and if her work-in-progress show at the Glasgow Comedy Festival can be built upon, Conti could be stepping out onto an exciting new path. While old staple Monk still accompanies his boss here, his presence is only required to set things up or to help her deconstruct the artifice of ventriloquism (though when he hypnotises her, it becomes clear that someone – anyone – in the room has to break the silence).
While the set is strewn with items such as a ladder, a red phone and a massive banana, they are mere diversions from the real deal: a set of puppetry masks perched on mic stands, waiting to be attached to the faces of four semi-willing front-row audience members.
Conti controls the movement of the masks’ mouths while speaking up for the wearers who all helpfully throw in gestures to aid the fun. And in a mind-contorting climax, the quartet return to the stage together for an all-singing, all-dancing, all voice-throwing grand finale.
Seen on 18.03.15