altIt’s hard to imagine such an outdated mode of comedy as ventriloquism, with its dismal variety show associations, having any chance of success in a cutting-edge comedy scene like the Fringe. However, variety is the spice of life, as Nina Conti’s fresh and funny performance proves.

Her hour long show introduced us to four puppets, a cynical and abusive monkey, a pretentious owl, a controversial granny and a Liza Minelli-esque doll, all beautifully articulated by the talented ventriloquist. Conti’s giggly and innocent demeanour acted as a brilliant springboard for the vastly different characters she employed, characterising them to speak their minds and producing some very entertaining outcomes.

She showed particular skill in improvising cutting retorts to the audience’s interaction, and coped well with a slightly difficult celebrity guest, using the tension created for further comedy. The climax of the performance came when audience members themselves were called upon to become puppets, subjecting them, with great effect, to some light-hearted public humiliation.

One must be aware though, that however much she manages to modernise the art-form with original material, the premise of the performance, a puppet on a hand, can only go so far. By the end of the show the novelty was wearing off slightly, but Conti’s likeability and inventiveness maintained a very enjoyable hour. 

Pleasance Dome, 4-30 Aug (not 16, 23), 8.30pm

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