Nina Conti - Dolly Mixtures
26 October 2013
I first became aware of the extraordinary ventriloquist talents of Nina
Conti when watching an outstanding television documentary on her in 2012,
titled 'A Ventriloquist's Story: Her Master's Voice'.
It included talking to her puppets about her deceased lover and mentor
Ken Campbell, renowned in Liverpool for his epic nine-hour cycle of five
plays, Illuminatus; how she got involved in ventriloquism: and how Campbell
persuaded her to continue mastering the skill when she had doubts whether
she was good enough to pursue it.
How grateful we are for Campbell putting any of her self doubts behind
her. Her performance at the Playhouse was almost a laugh a minute with
her use of seven puppets and contributions from members of the audience!
The puppets included Monkey, who acts like a father confessor to the
highly complex thinking Conti during the aforesaid documentary: a pit
bull terrier, who took part in the London Riots two years ago; an infant
Nina; and most bizarrely of all, two people plucked from the front row,
whose mouths were hidden behind chattering masks, while Conti had the
crowd in hysterics with her very witty and sometimes off-the-wall improvisational
Another highlight was the randy six foot plus plumber from Poland, called
Stefan. Another front row occupant came on stage and donned the clothing
of the huge puppet, who had Conti resisting his sexual advances.
Less extreme but still funny was Granny doing some mind reading and Grandad,
tired of living, topping himself in a paper shredder.
Apparently Conti's one-hour performance is based on the Seven Ages Of
Man speech in Shakespeare'a As You Like It - I only found this out the
day after the show - but I am not sure whether this meant as a bit of
a masquerade by her. Ever the mischievous one!