Komedia Southside, Edinburgh
August, 2001

**** An X-rated ventriloquial farce

Nina Conti, former RSC actor and daughter of Tom, bids farewell to legitimate theatre and starts frolicking with her "knee-pals".

Proper ventriloquists apparently hate the term "dummies"; what a vent works with are "knee-pals". Conti, a veteran of theatrical fruitcake Ken Campbell's Warp company, was turned on by him to ventriloquism, and says that for the first time she feels comfortable as a performer, as she works with a variety of figures from a luvvie gibbon to an inflatable Scottish bear.

This piece was written for her by Campbell, and it shows in the deliciously bizarre phrasing and out-of-kilter world view; he also makes a couple of appearances, as an offstage voice thrown by Conti and in effigy as the face of the huge "Blob Hoskins" figure. One of the milestones of venting is apparently to be possessed by a voice which seems entirely alien to the speaker, and the climax of this hour-long show occurs when, to put it bluntly, Conti finds herself talking out of her backside.

This is not a production of high-gloss showbiz ventriloquism as she acknowledges, "I've still got a bit of residual lip flutter" but Conti has a real talent in this line, and the show is an off-the-wall delight.

Written for divento.com

Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.

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