A vast talent for voices and timing
This article is from 2010.
‘First rule of performing: make it look easy; second rule: don’t fuck the elephants.’ Since there are no elephants in this show, Nina Conti succeeds in following monkey’s advice impeccably in prising apart the elderly art of ventriloquism in another display of consummate skill and outrageous humour. And this year she’s got three new puppets to assist her: her granny, a poetry-penning owl, and a vodka-swilling self-loathing New Yorker called Lydia.
In Talk to the Hand, there’s plenty of face-time with her crowd-pleasing nihilist monkey, but each new puppet has a singular personality and liberates Conti to showcase her dexterity as a performer. Owl the artiste sounds like Brian Sewell; Scottish Granny is a vehicle for enjoyably errant phone calls and other gentle antics, and when Lydia decides to invite the audience to suggest new voices for her, each is delivered with flabbergasting aplomb. This is only one of the things Conti makes look easy, along with breathing life into four cloth creatures, challenging our preconceptions and breaking our brains with the sheer scale of her talent.
Pleasance Dome, 556 6550, until 30 Aug, 8.30pm, £12–£13 (£10.50–£11.50).