Edinburgh Fringe 2011
Stop for a moment. Just consider, if you will, what the date is. We’re no hurtling toward the end of Fringe 2011, and most performers are going to be exhausted, disengaged, and, starved of regular hot meals, mildly insane. You’d expect them to be going off the boil somewhat. But Mrs O’Sullivan’s little girl is a performer who always knows exactly how to treat her fans.
I realised an unfortunate truth during this show, and it’s this: this will be very likely the last Camille show I see as a reviewer. Not that I’m not always impressed – in fact, quite the opposite, and that’s somewhat the point. I now know going in that I’m going to see a great show. It now seems that going to a Camille show as a reviewer, and not a paying guest, is somewhat dishonest, because if you don’t know by now that she’s pretty much unmissable, then one of us isn’t doing our job properly.
In the first few minutes, she prowls the stage. Occasionally throwing direct eye contact at an audience member or two. The crowd is almost giddy with oxygen starvation, hardly daring to breathe, such is the feeling of anticipation, not wanting to be the one still talking when she finally begins to sing. When she does, it feels like a riverbank swelling: she sings because it’s impossible to resist. The phrase about performers having audiences in the palm of their hands is a hideously over-used one, but since we’re agreed that this is the last Camille O’Sullivan review I’ll ever write, we’ll let it pass: she really does have the audience in the palm of her hand, and the audience are squeakily, delightedly all too aware of the fact.
As ever, no matter how big the room, she has this extraordinary gift of making each member of the audience feel as if she’s singing only to them, whether she’s riffing on Little Red Riding Hood, or revisiting classics such as Sugar In My Bowl and Simple Twist Of Fate. It manages to be a gloriously cracked hour, whether she’s playfully dodging the spotlight, or flirting with (it seems) pretty much everyone in the room. A genuinely unique and gifted performer.