Camille O'Sullivan in The Dark Angel
Where: West End
9 December 2009 WOS Rating: Average Reader Rating: Reader Reviews: View and add to our user reviews Camille O'Sullivan, who has become something of a cabaret legend via the Edinburgh Fringe, La Clique and Jools Holland, is nothing if not inimitable.
Her style is a heady mix of Irish folk, weimar glamour and booze-fuelled melancholy, while her song selection ranges from Nick Cave to David Bowie with some Tom Waits and Jaques Brel thrown in. “My show is all about characters and the strange stories they live in” she tells us – in truth it's more a projection of the strange (and strangely wonderful) world that she lives in.
Over the course of two hours O'Sullivan, who was born to an Irish Dad and French Mum, strips off layers of clothing, sits on a swing, drinks, crawls around, drinks a bit more and all the while delivers highly original takes on an unpredictable line-up of numbers, including an a capella rendition of Bowie's “Port of Amsterdam”, and a gut-wrenchingly epic spin on Waits' “Misery Is the River of the World”.
Her predominantly sombre song selection will not be to everybody's taste, and those hoping for a peppering of cabaret standards will be disappointed. But O'Sullivan is an immensely likeable performer, and despite some poor structuring (both acts begin weakly), she effectively expounds her central themes, particularly regarding the effects of alcoholism and depression, with grace and insight.
Watching cabaret in a West End playhouse is an odd experience, rather like watching stand-up comedy in a library (and speaking of stand-ups, they were out in force on press night, from Russell Brand to Frank Skinner). There's a feeling of distance between performer and audience - O'Sullivan is more at home wandering between tables - and also a niggling sense that the stage is simply too big for a singer accustomed, and best-suited, to more intimate environs.
But nevertheless, O'Sullivan is a highly skilled and engaging vocalist, ably backed by her five talented “boys”. She's an odd creation - her favourite word is “miaow” - and her Irish lilt is sometimes indecipherable in the cavernous auditorium of the Apollo. But music fans could do a lot worse for entertainment this Christmas, and it's good to see such a soulful iconoclast breaking through to the mainstream.
- by Theo Bosanquet Related Content
Score Comment Date Camille brings some of the things that she has lying around the house on to the stage as part of her set, she enters as if from the audience and departs like a priest at the end of a mass, musicians before her, still in accompanyment.
I was thinking what a fantastic song writer she was, listening to these tracks, and it wasnt until the last of the first set that i realised that they are covers, and I claim to be a music fan.
The beauty is in the selection of the titles and the performance of these, which are delivered very well. The band were great too, sometimes locked in a jam whilst Camille changes behind the vanity screen.
To really appreciate her though, I'd recommmend the weekend performance, as it will be then that there may be enough in the theatre to take the chill from the air, which, I add, is the only cold you will encounter otherwise. - Brian 17 Dec 09
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