Shappi Khorsandi is a writer, comedian, TV personality, and now she's also the eighteenth-century lover of a British Royal Navy Officer. Of course, Shappi Khorsandi hasn't discovered time travel, she's just decided to use Emma Hamilton, mistress of Horatio Nelson, as the inspiration for her latest show. Mistress and Misfit is at NST Campus on January 27th for just one show. Tickets are on sale and are available on the NST website.
Born in Iran in the 1970s, Shappi Khorsandi is the daughter of Iranian satirist and poet Hadi Khorsandi. After Iran's Islamic Resolution Shappi and her family left Iran and migrated to England. Her comedy revolves around her experiences moving from Iran and growing up in England and her two identities being both Persian and an English girl. So at first glance Mistress and Misfit may seem like a step in a different direction, but Shappi uses the story of Emma Hamilton to weave in and out of her own life as she identifies with this woman who didn't quite fit in.
Picture 1: Caricature of Emma Hamilton, Picture 2: Emma as Circe by George Romney
So who is Emma Hamilton, and what about her story inspired this show? Emma started working as a maid when she was just 12, from there she became dancer and then a hostess and entertainer. After giving birth do a daughter out of wedlock, she eventually caught the eye of painter George Romney. Romney was obsessed with her and Emma became his muse. The popularity of his paintings drew her fame amongst high society and she was considered intelligent, witty and of course beautiful. Eventually, she married, but it was after this that she became the lover and mistress of Horatio Nelson. Despite their love, they could not marry until the death of Emma's husband, but before they could Nelson died as well. Her life ended tragically when she died of dysentery without a cent left to her name.
The woman who entertained men by dancing naked on tables, charmed men and woman with her wit and made many men fall in love with her, died with nothing. It's certainly a wildlife, and while Shappi's life hasn't been the same she draws some parallels with the famous muse.
Shappi Khorsandi's show uses Emma's story to explore her own life, while also dealing with the evolving sexual politics throughout history. Shappi is frank and funny and you'll hardly feel like you're getting a history lesson as she cracks the jokes.
Mistress and Misfit is at NST Campus on January 27th at 7:30pm. Tickets are available from the NST website for just £15, or £13 for concessions (students and disability holders).