Review: Nancy Dell’Olio

Nancy Dell'Olio. Picture Toby William
Nancy Dell'Olio. Picture Toby William
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SHE’S not daft, Nancy. She knows enough to give the public what it wants, starting with complimentary shots of Limoncello.

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It extends to her Grand Canyon of cleavage, skin tight clothes that leave little to the imagination, and trademark fresco of maquillage (which anyone who’s spent time in Italy’s big cities knows is a perfectly average amount in that culture).

She calls out for more flattering lighting, and employs a serving boy who ferries her champagne and flowers at regular intervals, allowing her to joke about being a high-maintenance woman.

Beneath the jokes, however, there’s an interesting feminist message and a gentle critique of the British press which is, she assures us, unlike the media in any other country, with its predilection for gossip and female pulchritude. The British, she says, are obsessed with age, but age has nothing to do with beauty. “Beauty is an attitude, and my attitude is that I’m beautiful.” This is not delivered with arrogance, but as a simple statement of self belief. While many might have come to mock Dell’Olio, it’s a safe bet that more than one female member of the audience, inspired by her display of self-assurance and yes, intelligence, exited that room vowing to “Be more Nancy.”

Dell’Olio is not a polished performer. She requires script prompts and her comic timing needs work. Costume changes are undermined by malfunctions that take her off stage for far too long. But none of that matters one bit. What she is, is entirely herself. And that, after all, is what the audience has come to marvel at.

Until Sunday