Camille O’Sullivan makes her way to the stage through a dimly lit auditorium. Wearing a long, black velvet coat, and with her hair pulled demurely back from her face, the impression is one of dignified elegance. Repeated notes from the piano accompany her and she floats gracefully on to the stage for a quiet and reflective opening song. She soon sheds the coat however, and her voice and personality unleash themselves like a roaring lion demanding your full attention - the effect is thoroughly exhilarating.
Camille is a dramatic and passionate singer and her reputation is well deserved. Her voice, which although not strictly ‘beautiful’, is a powerful and versatile instrument that lends itself perfectly to the dark, moody songs of Nick Cave, Tom Waits and Jacques Brel. Whether portraying a little girl, a seductress or a mad woman, her commitment to the character is total and each song captures a different mood and moment in time. Camille is very much a story teller and definitely a singing actress rather than an acting singer. Her show is highly theatrical and never dull, and she finds ways to make every moment entertaining. She spends a considerable amount of time dancing seductively around the stage, playfully lifting her skirt to reveal a decent pair of legs, and even making her shoes a point of interest. After opening a bottle of wine with her teeth, she spits the cork unceremoniously out of her mouth and takes a thirsty swig from the bottle as if to fortify herself. With each change of character comes a change of physicality, and this effort seems to cost her considerably as she falls puffing to the ground after several numbers, visibly exhausted by the exertion.
This ‘Dark Angel’ also has a great sense of humour which she happily shares with the audience between songs. Meowing and growling, she makes her way around the auditorium thrusting her ample bosom into the face of some unsuspecting gentleman and declaring in her lilting Irish accent: ‘I like to connect with my audience!’ This genuine and humorous approach is completely refreshing and Camille charms the audience, men and women alike, in an appealing and non threatening way by making light of her eroticism.
Because Camille’s stage presence is so magnetic, I have to remind myself to also consider her fellow musicians. Her band, which consists of five others, provides a supportive yet unobtrusive musical backdrop. At one point I notice that the pianist (David Bates) is having so much fun that he is practically jumping out of his skin! The other musicians whilst being more reserved, nevertheless play beautifully, and skilfully create the colours of each differing tonal picture.
Seeing Camille perform is really not an opportunity to be missed. This woman will grab you from the first moment until the last and take you on a wonderful musical and theatrical journey. Her energy and commitment are really impressive and this is the most engaging piece of theatre I have seen in a long time. Not only does she wow with her ability as a singing actress, she also conveys a completely charming personality. If you are looking for original and vital theatre, this is definitely the show for you.
Venue: The Studio | Sydney Opera House
Dates/Times: 6 – 9 February @ 8.15pm, 12 – 16 February @ 9.30pm
Tickets: From $20 to $49 or $20 to $39 concession
Bookings: 9250 7777 or www.sydneyoperahouse.com/thestudio