It seems a shame to mention how Nina Conti appears on the stage at the beginning of her show but if I don't this review will end pretty much here. If you thought the ventriloquist's act with her legendary filthy simian sidekick Monk couldn't go any further, you'd be wrong. This time Conti has actually become Monk. Yep she's got an ape suit and she's going to wear it. And uncomfortably at that. Whether the awkwardness will be in the show near the end of the run, who knows, but it would be a shame to lose the fun to be had in the sheer impracticality of wearing a massive monkey outfit. Lumbering clumsily about the stage, the only way Conti can breathe is to occasionally open Monk's mouth so he momentarily pauses, gob agape, staring vacantly into the upper circle. The conceit enables Conti to push further the contrast between her sweet stage personality and that which she projects onto Monk.
It was somehow inevitable that Nina Conti would merge as one with her foul-mouthed simian sidekick, Monkey. While she prepared for her innovative new ventriloquism show for this year's Fringe, we asked what levels of meta-comedy this fresh hour will take us into and just how rude her chimp chum can get. What's the premise of the new show and is it an idea you've been working towards for a while now? I've loved the thrill of and challenge of improvising with audience members in masks; it feels like the gift that keeps on giving and I do it in this show. God forbid Monkey should be out-shone so he's been to the Star Wars creatures department and given a major upgrade that liberates him from the limitations of being on my hand. But now he's living with a woman inside him dying of heat exhaustion so he may never be truly free. It's taken the relationship to a new level of unwelcome intimacy.
Like so many things, it all started with Star Wars. Nina Conti — she of the foul-mouthed Monkey , demure stage persona and ambitiously intellectual approach to the dark art of ventriloquism — was cast in the recent movie. The other reason is much darker and deeper. Her Fringe debut saw her looking pretty, a little bit sexy, delivering well-spoken and charming patter with this fluffy little monkey puppet on her arm that spewed out filth like it was Irvine Welsh having a fight with Gordon Ramsay.
Tickets are now on sale. Nina began her career as an actress at the Royal Shakespeare Company, before the genius and anarchic theatre director Ken Campbell inspired her to become a ventriloquist. Further films are planned. This film follows Nina as she trains as a giggle doctor with Theodora Children's Charity, beginning with her trying to find her clown persona, who might be Scottish Devastated by the discovery that Monkey can only perform in hospitals if he can be boil-washed, Nina tries to go it alone with only a red nose, a few misshapen balloon animals and some slightly disappointing magic tricks.