Reviewer: Matt Yeoman
Long gone are the days of the “traditional” ventriloquist acts with a single puppet being used as an excuse for exposition of the inner-ego of a comedian. We are now, partly thanks to Nina Conti, in an age where ventriloquism is intelligent, creative, sexy and refreshed.
For those who don’t know anything about Conti, she has been working in television as an actress and comedienne for around 20 years; the daughter of the famous actor, Tom Conti. In recent years, she has graced the stages of many a televised comedy show, Live at the Apollo perhaps bringing her the most recognition. For many, since she has found this new level of fame, this tour represents their first opportunity to see her live – and it is a show not to be missed.
Conti makes it clear from the outset that what is about to be experienced is based predominantly on the responses and people she meets from the audience. Her stage is littered with various props, bags and tools needed for her to create a versatile and flexible performance. It is, in essence, her toolbox for building comedy and, along with the templates for the characters she holds in her own mind, the capacity to construct a hilarious performance is there.
Her only puppet of the night is Monkey – a small brown, hand puppet that has as much of a personality as anyone in the audience. Conti works incredibly well to distance herself from the monkey, giving it a totally new persona that allows it to insult members of the audience and subsequently apologise to Conti for its rudeness. A stand out moment is Monkey’s guitar performance.
In Your Face revolves primarily around Conti’s greatest success, her facemasks. Throughout the show she invites members of the audience up to don one of the masks, allowing her to control the mouth movement and have a conversation with the audience “victims” who, behind the masks, show their fear and panic at what’s being said making the whole experience hilarious – there is a great balance in finding each audience member a new persona and using their real life situations provides some outstanding comic moments.
This is an absolute must-see. Any fear about having seen ‘the best bits on the TV’, are quickly allayed, this is a show that is as fresh as it is hilarious.
Reviewed on 27 September 2015