Camille O’Sullivan, the feisty Irish performer, has returned to the Adelaide Cabaret Festival after a hiatus of several years. Known for her intensely dramatic interpretations of the works of Brel, Cave, Waits, Bowie, et al., Camille continues to draw inspiration from these artists to provide the backbone of her new show – Feel.
Camille’s eccentricity is intriguing. In fact, on numerous occasions she states: “don’t try to understand it” and “it’s not like what’s on the poster – you’ll just have to get over that”. This confidence and quirk underpins the entire show. Repeated meow-ing, dressing up as a donkey and conversations with illuminated rabbits, are just some of the bizarre actions which leave the audience wondering if this is cabaret, or a strange dream
Entering gracefully through the audience for the opening number; Arcade Fire’s ‘Wake Up’, Camille’s beautiful voice hypnotises the audience, and the bizarre dreamlike ninety-minute journey begins.“Camille O’Sullivan’s Feel is bizarre and quirky, dramatic and beautiful, and an experience that leaves you wanting more“
The Festival Theatre Stage is a perfect cabaret location with a sense of both awe and intimacy. The ambient lighting design transforms the mood with ease, and the set, dressed with dresses and an assortment of knickknacks, furthers the impression of a dream-like state.
The accompanying three-piece band is faultless. The drums, guitar and piano (with occasional spatterings of cornet) combo compliment Camille’s complex and diverse vocal tones, and could only have been improved with the addition of some bass. At times however, there was a lack of cohesion between Camille and her band, with the artist frequently battling the band to find an appropriate tempo or tone.
Camille herself excels in her dramatic portrayal of Brel’s ‘Amsterdam’. Other notable highlights include Nine Inch Nails’ ‘Hurt’ and in particular Nick Cave’s ‘The Ship Song’ where the audience participation is hauntingly beautiful.
Camille O’Sullivan’s Feel is bizarre and quirky, dramatic and beautiful, and an experience that leaves you wanting more. Luckily, Camille’s new album, Changeling, is sold after the show but for me, it’s the exciting performance, rather than the music that is the real hit!