The honest truth is that I have very little to say about Camille O'Sullivan's new solo performance at the Pleasance. This is chiefly because you simply have to experience an evening with the Cork-born entertainer to completely understand the power and presence she possesses.
This is theatre, cabaret, and a gig all rolled in to one overwhelming package, and then wrapped with O'Sullivan's undeniably quirky and somewhat unconventional personal style.
Littered with various instruments and barely visible behind a whirlwind of smoky haze, the stage twinkles with hundreds of multi-coloured fairy lights, which drape over huge prop boxes. An array of regal ball gowns dangle above the cavernous Grand, and as the lights dim, a mysterious figure in a glittering red cloak glides across the space, and forcing us all into a sudden silence. The fringe from a jet black bob struggles to escape from the hood; the eyes are bright and alert; and the beginning of a sexy smile twitches at the corner of deep red lips. O'Sullivan has arrived.
From then on, the entire audience is captivated. O'Sullivan runs through a refreshingly varied repertoire, only pausing briefly to swig red wine and growl seductively at the front row. There are slow ballads which burst into punchy rock numbers, folk-style ditties, pacy cabaret songs, neo-burlesque-inspired routines - her versatility is admirable.
At first, she assumes grotesque and villainous characters with subtle costume changes, cruelly twisting a number about a red rose into a jarring wall of noise. But then she sheds this garb, removes her shoes, releases her hair about her shoulders, and blows us away with her sultry, breathy and smoky voice. You could never accuse O'Sullivan of shortchanging an audience: with her mesmerising stage presence, she belts out number after number, with a sensual twinkle in her eye, and so much simmering emotion that she takes your breath away.
I could not hear her on-stage patter with the audience, and she can alienate some with her bizarre behaviour, but this is a performance unlike any other, and one that leaves you only wanting more.
- Adam Elms