Camille O’Sullivan: Feel – 2012 Adelaide Cabaret Festival

Camille O’Sullivan leaves it in no doubt that she is one of the greatest living cabaret artists.

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Presented by Camille O’Sullivan and the Adelaide Cabaret Festival
Reviewed Wednesday 13th June 2012

It has been six years since Camille O’Sullivan’s last visit, but it was obvious that Adelaide audiences fully remembered how great she is, as the full house showed. Painter, singer, actress, and architect were her earlier career choices, but it is in cabaret that she has found her niche, leaving those other parts of her working life behind. O’Sullivan is another performer whose work is strongly rooted in Weimar Kabarett, with a disturbing darkness running through her performance, and noticeable influences of Dadaism, that was a part of the early cabaret culture. Taken back in time to the Bauhaus, Die Katakombe, Brecht’s Red Grape, the Schall und Rauch, or Rosa Valetti’s Grossenwahn, she could walk out on stage and fit in easily with the other performers of that era without being a bit out of place, such is her understanding of the genre.

O’Sullivan first appears dressed in her Red Riding Hood, carrying a lantern and making her way through the audience to the stage. During the show a piece of the outfit is removed here and there, creating a whole range of costumes that end up as a black dress with lace top. Her suitcase contains other bits and pieces that also transform her appearance.

Accompanied by a fine trio of musicians on keyboards (and pocket trumpet), guitar and drums, O’Sullivan gives each song an individual interpretation. Her repertoire, though, is not limited to the songs of Kurt Well, Jaques Brel and others from the early years of German and French Cabaret. She takes music by Tom Waits, David Bowie, Nick Cave, and other songwriters of modern times, and gives them a Kabarett treatment, reinventing and revitalising them.

Calling her voice flexible, or versatile would be as much of an understatement as saying that the universe is quite big. She can be breathy, husky, soft and gentle, powerful, raunchy and a host of other attributes. When she sang Jacques Brel’s Amsterdam she gave so much to the song that it was almost as though it had been written for her.

She establishes, even in this rather large venue, a strong connection with her audience, bringing them into her world for the duration of the performance. She leaves it in no doubt that she is one of the greatest living cabaret artists. She has a few more performances if you can still get tickets. Do not miss her performance is you really love cabaret.

Reviewed by Barry Lenny, Arts Editor, Glam Adelaide.

Cabaret Festival web site – Camille O’Sullivan
Camille O’Sullivan’s web site

Venue: Festival Theatre stage, Adelaide Festival Centre, King William Road, Adelaide
Season: to 16th June 2012
Duration: 1hr 10mins
Tickets: $44.90 to $54.90
Bookings: BASS 13 12 46 or here

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