Camille O'Sullivan: Where Are We Now?

Camille is the Fringe. This is her 13th year here and, in the spiegeltent at Underbelly’s Circus Hub, she’s created a beautiful, personal show.

She can be a sultry chanteuse, a lairy chanter or a playful kitten and, I imagine, it all comes down to how she feels on the night.

Camille is like a gestalt entity made up of all the greatest singers, alive and dead and this is her anthem to the ones she loves. There’s songs from Jacques Brel, then Nick Cave, suddenly she’s belting out a fantastic cover of Bowie’s Rock N Roll Suicide and then she channels Cohen. These aren’t just imitative covers; Camille has made the songs her own and, if she wasn’t always so quick to credit the original artiste, you might not even realise that these songs were not written for her, so well they suit her voice.

Her voice is a soaring seabird; lifting on the calm air then plummeting to dark, mysterious depths. There’s the ever-present props and knick-knacks that she fiddles with throughout the show and a couple of simple costume changes to keep the eye entertained. The three piece band are fantastic and perfectly accompany Camille’s voice, riding her moods and rocking out where necessary.

There’s a surprising number of walkouts during the show. Perhaps many of the audience are there to hear more familiar songs or are new to Camille and this isn’t quite what they expected? However, with Camille, it’s hard to know what to expect; she can be a sultry chanteuse, a lairy chanter or a playful kitten and, I imagine, it all comes down to how she feels on the night. The pacing is slow and, admittedly somewhat self-indulgent but Camille has worked hard to deserve our indulgence. At the end of the show she assures those who are quickly departing that, in the encore, she’ll sing The Ship Song which they’ve likely been waiting for and they’ll kick themselves if they have to hear it from outside the spiegeltent. I bet they did.

Reviews by Frodo Allan

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Since you’re here…

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

'The queen of the Fringe' (BBC Arts) premieres a new show asking Where Are We Now? in our suddenly, crazily-changing world. Framing this question through the arresting, final songs of Bowie and Leonard Cohen and those of other crucial writers such as PJ Harvey and Nick Cave, bringing her rare gift for storytelling. Camille's Where Are We Now? promises to be an unforgettable evening of madness, beauty, darkness and love. Five-star sell-out performances include Sydney Opera House, Royal Festival Hall, La Clique and Roundhouse. 'Spellbinding storytelling in song – magnificent' ***** (Times).

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