Camille O’Sullivan – Brighton Spiegeltent
Friday 13th May 9pm
First becoming aware of this versatile performer, actor (and former architect and portrait painter!) over a decade ago through her performances in the award winning and popular La Clique cabaret, I was pleased to see the return of O’Sullivan to what feels like her natural habitat, the Brighton Spiegeltent last night.
Born in London of a French mother and Irish father, Performer – Singer and Actor Camille O’Sullivan moved to Cork, Ireland when she was a child.
After a long time away for us all since the pandemic began, but especially for those with cancelled shows and lost work, hearing Camille’s interview this week on Radio 4 announcing her return was a tonic.
Coming to the stage to loud applause, dressed in stage garb like a red Miss Havisham from Great Expectations, she soon cast aside the costume and swapped it for something a little more comfortable, with a witty comment about the impact of drink and chocolate in lockdown.
Whilst being a fan of her work, I hadn’t realised how funny she is too. Referring to herself as a lass from Cork, her between song wit and wordplay was an unexpectedly very amusing addition to the evening.
Performing this show as a trio with a talented pianist playing a grand piano and accompanied by a Violinist/Saxophone/Flute player (not at all jealous!) with a bit of musical saw for fun, the show featured some much loved favourites. The Song of the Old Lovers (La chanson des vieux amants) from Belgian 1950s crooner Jacques Brel featured early on.
She made some changes to the running order and brought in a song by Leonard Cohen, whilst also saying that she was so eager to be back on stage and performing again like a “horse out of the traps”. You can see why The Daily Telegraph voted her one of the top 25 performances ever on Later with Jools.
Next up was a favourite covered from husky voiced Tom Waits, the song Martha. You know the one, the ‘Tom Frost’ number:
Hello, hello there, is this Martha?
This is old Tom Frost, and I’m calling long distance. Don’t worry ’bout the cost
Cause it’s been 40 years or more, now Martha please recall
Meet me out for coffee, where we’ll talk about it all.
A perennially popular one, Kirsty MacColl’s In These Shoes was rendered in a sassy and fun way by this singer, and a lovely testament to MacColl herself too.
Nick Cave’s work featured too, as expected, but just right for the mood and the art deco glamour of the venue, and then an old Weimar Republic song from the 1930s Munchausen or Liar Liar as it’s known by Friedrich Hollaender.
She gave us two Bob Dylan songs which went down well, Don’t Think Twice, and later Forever Young, the latter definitely pulling at my tiredly emotional late Friday night Weltschmertz.
She really was warmly received and it was an uplifting night, and one which also offered a lot of laughs. This is a win for the Brighton Fringe and we’re very glad to have her back! She has two more night’s of shows to watch.
Queen of the Edinburgh Festival’ (BBC) and original star of Olivier award-winning La Soirée.
“An artist at the top of her game pushing herself to be better and trusting us to keep up. It’s thrilling to watch.” ★★★★★ (The Scotsman).
“Hypnotic” ★★★★★ (The Independent).
“When she sings it’s as though her breath is soaked in paraffin – one spark and the whole room would ignite.” (The Daily Telegraph).
“Ravishing… a superb performer and great singer… the star is her singing voice: a deep, sultry instrument that might have been created to express desolate love” ★★★★★ (The Guardian).