Note: This review is from the 2022 Fringe

South African ventriloquist Conrad Koch and his abrasive puppet friend Chester Missing bring their own unique act to the unlikely surroundings of Pleasance Bunker Three, which both repeatedly comment on throughout the show. Koch keeps things light at the beginning, limiting his political targets to familiar British faces such as Rishi Sunak, Liz Truss and Boris Johnson. This part of the show is fine, but the jokes aren’t particularly incisive, focusing on broad observations that aren’t particularly surprising to British audiences.

However, the show’s content strengthens when Koch, with the help of Chester, moves on to addressing the toxic legacy of not only apartheid, but also colonialism in general. This section contains a sometimes uneasy balance of jokes about white privilege with genuinely shocking real life information, such as the 2012 Marikana massacre of striking miners – that sometimes leads to awkward transitions between the two strands of material.

However, Koch manages to maintain this balance, skilfully using the humour as light relief from the serious points he makes about white complicity in historical and contemporary racism. This skill can be seen when he moves onto his own racism, which involves an extensive interrogation from Chester. It’s here where Koch’s talent as a ventriloquist really comes into its own, as he alternates between his more measured tone and Chester’s frenzied comebacks with incredible ease whilst keeping the content funny and informative.

White Noise starts off slowly, with Koch finding his feet with a largely-White British audience, however, when he gets into his stride in addressing colonial and postcolonial racism, he (and Chester) provide humour and insight in equal measures.