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Verdict: Irish Monk gets stuffed
Nina Conti shares an Edinburgh double-bill with Micky Flanagan (separate acts)
We previewed Nina Conti at Bloomsbury Theatre in May 03:
Nina Conti's a slim pretty woman in her 20s with long dark hair; she's elegant in combats and top, chrome belt and necklace, well-spoken, engagingly polite and well-mannered. All of which is sadly to no account, as she's constantly upstaged by a reflective, witty and frequently obscene elderly Irish chap, up whose bottom she keeps her hand.
Monk's the man, or rather monkey, a fine, original and generally likeable character. World-weary in voice and manner (except when he's shagging a beer-glass), he sets out from the start to ruin Nina Conti's reputation, ('But we don't sleep together. We're not like Michael Jackson and children.') and self-esteem (unkind about her physique; and the word 'bitch', or rather 'gitch' - this being ventriloquism - occurs).
Nina Conti tries hard to be courteous, keep up standards, and cover Monk's worst excesses, but he's a closet prima-donna with ambitions as a straight stand-up - preferably with Nina Conti's hand removed. 'How many monkeys does it take to screw in a light-bulb? Monkeys screw in trees', being an example of Monk's personal material.
Monk's cruelty in revealing all of his friend's personal secrets - doesn't have a boyfriend, being the mildest - is counter-acted by Nina Conti's cruel revenge of stuffing him, furry limb by limb, into a pint glass. Monk, being Monk, turns this to his own perverted advantage.
Nina Conti's writing and performance are outstanding. Her skill is the creation of two quite separate characters - her stage self, and Monk; and constructing a stand-up act between them of the highest quality. Her characterisation of Monk is subtly scripted - a remarkable piece of inspired comedy.
Credits: Written and performed by Nina Conti. Technicals: Theatre staff.
reviewed Bloomsbury Theatre / Tuesday 27 May 03
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