Kate Herbert is theatre reviewer, Herald Sun, Melbourne & formerly for Melbourne Times. Kate is a director & produced playwright (20 plays). Scripts published by Currency Press. She worked as an actor, comedian, improviser & teacher of Acting, Improvisation & Playwriting. Kate is currently Convenor of Professional Writing & Editing, Swinburne University. Read her reviews here or at: www.heraldsun.com.au/entertainment/arts. NB Explorer Browser doesn't always work on blog.
Tuesday, 31 March 2015
Nina Conti in In Your Face, 31 March 2015 ****
Lower Melbourne Town Hall until 19 April 2015 Melbourne Comedy Festival Stars:**** Reviewer:
Kate Herbert Review also published in Herald Sun online 1 April 2015. KH
Conti conjures some riotous moments in her show, In Your Face, and many of them
are courtesy of audience members who become Conti's human ventriloquist
Conti on stage for some mischievous ventriloquist shenanigans is Conti's
long-standing partner in comedy crime, the jaded but wicked Monkey hand puppet.
Nina is sweet and charming, Monkey is rude, insulting and gets to say all the
things Nina thinks but couldn't possibly say out loud without sounding like a
jerk. The Monkey can be a jerk and we laugh.
he says is not what I think," she pleads. "Yes it is," quips the
Monkey, her other self.
some chat with people in the front row, what follows is some risky comedy
that relies not only on audience participation but individuals coming on stage,
wearing half-masks and being manipulated in the nicest, funniest way to look
keeps smiling and schmoozing her victims and making them look and feel good,
the golden rule for any performer inviting audience on stage.
straps a bulky half-mask over their mouths so they can see but not talk, then
she operates their mask-mouths remotely, providing the voice and improvised
dialogue for her new co-performer who is a total novice.
are disinhibiting and can cause people to do totally out of character things,
as if possessed by the mask. That makes great comedy when it works and it works
most of the time on this opening night but, with impro, even the bloopers are a
audience members really know how to accept an offer from an improvising comic.
They accept, over-accept and advance the story like crazy.
have a woman who is a producer of TV shows about animals (Really!) whose mask
tells a story about a flying donkey – with some rude bits.
masked woman gets so wildly phobic about phantom spiders that she whacks Nina
over the head with a giant banana.
teenage girls, both of whom end up being called Fionnuala, become gruff, dopey
bloke-masks that play guitar and accordion and sing a totally mad song.
are some absolutely hysterically funny gems in this show and it will be
different each night, with new masks and new performers, so there can be no