Dolly (Catrin Stewart, Doctor Who’s Silurian-loving Jenny) wants to be a comedienne, but at the open mic nights, she’s crippled with fear and is heckled from the stage. One day, while sitting alone, as usual, watching old movies and chomping on Pot Noodles, she sees an advert for a cute-looking hand puppet. With Connie wrapped around Dolly’s hand, she makes her way onto the stage once more. The jeers turn to cheers and laughter as Connie proceeds to roast the crowd with a series of foul-mouthed barbs. Dolly is a hit, rising up the billing on the show, and even gaining the attention of an equally shy Ollie and his puppet Hank. As the double act become more successful, Dolly’s confidence increases and Connie decides to take matters into her own felt hands to stop her becoming redundant.
What’s great about Cat Davies’ short is that it takes a familiar premise; after all, we’ve all seen ventriloquist movies and expect a certain amount of creepiness from them and we are even treated to a few clips from the 1929 film The Great Gabbo by way of illustration. What Connie does is take the expectation of something sinister and give it a cuter, more Muppet-style face. We know what’s going to happen, but thanks to the engaging portrayal of Dolly by Stewart, it’s still a joy getting there. Telling a satisfying story in only twenty minutes can be a task, but writer/director Davies has managed to do just that. Avoiding some clichéd psycho doll moments - and without resorting to cheap horror gags - Dolly’s story is all the more relatable. Naturally, we don’t all come into possession of a sweary hand puppet that wants to control our lives, but there will be a large portion of the audience who will sympathise with Dolly’s situation, particularly how crippling anxiety can get in the way of ambition. Drive isn’t always enough; sometimes we need a ‘front’, which Connie manages to be for Dolly. But like all emotional crutches, it’s often hard to let them go.
It’s hard to stand out in a crowded market - and the short film scene certainly is that - but should you get a chance, make sure you catch Connie, as it’s a pleasant surprise and showcases a talent worth keeping an eye on.
CONNIE / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: CAT DAVIES / STARRING: CATRIN STEWART, CAT DAVIES, KIM NEWMAN / RELEASE DATE: TBC