I’ve been a fan of Shappi’s since seeing her in Melbourne and reading her autobiography and went along knowing nothing about the subject matter of this show. It was certainly different from previous outings, being based around a glamorous, historical figure other than herself, but also less surprisingly, it was utterly entertaining.
Mistress & Misfit is an autobiographical show of sorts, but it is mainly a biography of another fascinating woman, Emma, Lady Hamilton, lover of Horatio Nelson, someone I knew nothing about. The Space she is performing in is a lecture theatre, perfect for her show and one of the most comfortable for the audience I’ve been in. Turns out Emma, Lady Hamilton had a pretty amazing life, starting in poverty, becoming a sex worker, courtesan, married to a Lord, then a famous mistress and finally ending in poverty again. I’ll leave it to Shappi to fill in all the extraordinary details, for she does it so well.
Shappi also manages to wind some personal stories through the show. In this way she is able to explain why she relates to the story of Emma so intimately. She relates to feeling outside of the society she lives in, from the ‘wrong class’ and trying to learn it’s secrets and fit in. She also understands having powerful men treat you like crap. I love the way Shappi is able to crack jokes and talk about sexual politics though history, her own as well as Emma’s, without sounding like she is being a political comedian. It’s all very chatty and friendly.
Shappi is a delightful raconteur and will always put on an excellent Festival show. Mistress & Misfit should satisfy the history geeks, Shappi fans and pretty much anyone just popping in to see an interesting and funny comedy Festival show.
Mistress and Misfit is on at Assembly George Square Studios until August 27