Nina Conti is an award winning comedian who started her career as an actress before transitioning into ventriloquism in 2008, she’s back at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2018 with her new show Nina Conti is Monkey.
There may be puppets involved but this show is not for kids, I feel I should probably emphasise this as sometimes parents ignore the warnings and turn up on the front row with a child to a very rude hour of improv comedy from Conti. Starting this show dressed as her puppet Monkey, complete with working animatronic mouth, theres something a bit disturbing about seeing the once tiny hand puppet brought to life in such a way, the effect gets even more disturbing when Conti wriggles out of the costume, leaving us briefly with some sort of Monkey/Conti hybrid monstrosity. The show begins with some audience interaction as Monkey climbs off the stage and gets amongst the crowd, inviting some of them up on stage for some short segments. The main meat of the show comes a bit later when Conti starts getting more audience members on stage an starts strapping masks to them. This gives Conti control of their mouths and she turns them into her ventriloquist puppets, improvising based upon their actions on stage and whatever tangent Conti decides to take them down.
Shows so reliant upon audience interaction can be tough and it takes a very skilful improv artist to carry a show like that and make up funny, luckily for all involved Conti is most definitely that. She brilliantly improvises and voices multiple characters, 5 at once on the night I saw her, and convinces her human puppets to join in with much aplomb. The show was packed out on the midweek show I saw, so if you want a ticket book now and book fast as there are only a few shows left.
★★★★ and a half