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Camille O'Sullivan: Changeling
Published on Wednesday, 08 August 2012
4

4 stars

The Assembly Rooms (venue website)
Music
4-7 Aug, 10:25pm-11:55pm
Reviewed by Anne Stirling

 Recommended for age 14+ only.

Like a mythological siren she lures you, beckoning you with seductive songs to enter her world.  It’s a world where flights of fancy reign, and one needn't bother with a glass: red wine tastes much better straight from the bottle. She is queen of her emotionally-charged stage, parading about, staring her front row into submission and demanding attention. Her songs are powerfully and beautifully executed, but her ever-shifting moods mean she never really lets you in. So who is this Camille O'Sullivan?

She really is a captivating force – accompanied by an astonishing five-piece band who help bring her heart-wrenching musical choices to life, swelling through the Assembly Rooms' gorgeous Music Hall. Complete with gilded domed ceiling and chandelier, it’s an apt setting for a diva's showcase. But the husky tone and growled top notes of her opening number, Revelator, cast away any doubt that she is no ordinary diva. Camille asks the audience, 'Have you ever been to one of my shows?' To those who haven't she offers a loaded 'Good luck.' She proceeds to take her audience on a roller-coaster ride of musical numbers, from the raucous and randy In These Shoes? to the besotted Galileo and the wacky and wild God's Away on Business.

The personae she presents are as eclectic as her song choices, and the show's title is a fitting summary for the image of herself that she creates: a changeling. While her flirtation with her fans is fondly felt, her laughter at her own crazy characters grates somewhat. She chuckles at the silliness of God's Away on Business and the randomness of her rabbit lamps (as pictured in the poster for the show), but I would have liked to see her take ownership of those quirky aspects without the need to laugh – to dive deeply into the characters and portray them wholeheartedly, not needing to break and reveal that we, too, should be laughing along. In a way, I feel it undermines the audience's capacity or willingness to ride the wave that is her show.

Yet Camille O'Sullivan is a dynamic and intense performer, much to the delight of the fans who were keen to catch her on her short visit to the Fringe this year. As is expected, a few meows surface from the Irish vixen, as she wends her way across the stage between songs – playing dress-ups, sitting on a swing, legs dangling and carefree. This homage to girlhood behaviour juxtaposes the adult themes of the songs she covers, again bamboozling us in our quest to find out who she really is. I don't know if she'll ever expose the truth beneath her music, but I do know that I enjoy hearing her sing.

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FROM OUR ARCHIVES

These are archived reviews of shows from Edinburgh 2012.  We keep our archives online as a courtesy to performers, and for readers who'd like to research previous years' reviews.

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Morgan & West: Lying, Cheating Scoundrels


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