Nina Conti’s documentary covers her trip to an annual ventriloquist’s convention in Kentucky. She goes there to donate one of the puppets left by her late mentor and former lover, British underground theatre figure Ken Campbell (one of the puppets is a huge Campbell doll), who inspired her to become a ventriloquist. Half of the doc is devoted to fascinating people and activities at the convention (admittedly a little demented) and the other half is devoted to her self-therapy sessions with various dummies or puppets, especially Monkey, and these parts are indulgent and creepy (yet still highly watchable). It’s only an hour long, and the disc is fleshed out (or furred out, or latexed out) with complete versions of the Monkey interview, Nina’s “seance” with the Campbell puppet, and her funny and original performance at the convention. While working within a venerable tradition, she challenges its boundaries and sometimes arrives at almost transgressive performance art, such as the funny-yet-shocking staging of a dummy’s “death”. As Monkey points out, it’s deconstructionist.
// Notes from the Road
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