Electric and Eclectic...That's Camille O'Sullivan

Camille O’Sullivan

Theatre Severn

Thursday 9th March 2017


Explosive, enigmatic, sharing, quiet and loving are just a few adjectives that one can apply to a Camille O’Sullivan show. Adjectives that apply not only to the show but to the lady also.  One would liken a trip to a Camille O’Sullivan show akin to throwing a lit match into a tin of fireworks to see what comes out.

With a straightforward backline of Keys, Drums and the meanest Electric Guitar you ever did hear, the rest of the spectacle comprised the Irish linnet herself and her irrepressible Irish spirit.

Interestingly enough stage left was bedecked with a doll’s house, an umbrella lit by LED and three dresses on mannequins with electric light bulbs on the bust. Then if that wasn’t enough mystery, each of the mannequins sported an animal head mask. There was a pig, a rabbit and another one that even Johnny Morris or own Darwin might have struggled to identify. In the end it was inconsequential as only one of the props was used. The rest proved utterly irrelevant! 

With an extremely unusual choice of costume, a black lycra spray on suit, well it wasn’t sprayed on but it looked like it, and when the lycra caught the light it looked as though she was wearing inflatable trousers. However, such is the enigma that is Camille O’Sullivan.

Her relationship with her audience was warm and two way. Several time Ms.O’Sullivan would kneel and talk quietly off mike with the audience and that was special. No one could hear her but nevertheless special.

The act itself comprised of little bits of everything. Songs came from the pens of such greats as Jacques Brel, David Bowie, Leonard Cohen and Nick Cave. In an homage to Bowie she sang, “All The Young Dudes,” maybe unaware of the relevance of that song to the town of Shrewsbury. Although written by Bowie, Hereford band Mott The Hoople had a hit with it. Heading Mott The Hoople was old Priorian, Ian Hunter. Our own home grown Shrewsbury  talent.However that is just an aside. Back to Bowie, from the Ziggy Stardust she sang Five Years and made a wonderful job of it.

There was an air of party about the show but sometimes one felt that the party was for the others and not oneself. That feeling of alienation possibly caused by references to other performances that other audience members could recall, maybe it wasn’t that but there was something that one can’t quite pin down but occasionally one could suddenly feel detracted and needing to make an effort to get back into the shared jollity.

Whatever happened to the art of the encore? We were told the show was over the band laid down their weapons for the usual hold hands bow and curtsey then off and play the, "not coming back on until you ask us!" game.  If an audience doesn’t ask, no encore should be performed. But to finish the show , then tell the audience you’ll be doing two more and then making it three without even a call for encore. There wasn’t time. The audience was told how it was playing out. Why do all that front of stage palava if you have no intention in finishing?  But a three song encore, 15 minutes extra on the show? Why not save it ‘til the penultimate song and restore the usual convention? One should never tell your audience how your encore will go before it is established whether one is getting one. They would have undoubtedly got one as the audience were having a great if not slightly challenging time. Certainly a sore handed time as on four separate occasions the members of the band were introduced. We got it, the boys behind were the band!

Camille O’Sullivan has a vocal range that would leave other singers way behind. Her voice can ride and work with the music it can expand and fill the theatre, there is a power in her voice that again, singers would kill for and yet there is a softness and a character so likeable that one is aware she has caught some of that wild spirit that races through the Irish hills, dales and towns, she has captured all that, and she shares it by simply being there.

This is A Four Star Review.

Owen J. Lewis


Sofia Lewis Sofia Lewis
For many years Sofia wrote here under her male name Owen J. Lewis. She is now mostly writing under her own name of Sofia Lewis. Sofia, who worked on independent radio for over ten years, lives in Shrewsbury and writes plays. She has over 15 titles published and her plays are performed all over the world. She is especially popular in America. Her poetry is also often noted and she writes reams of it most weeks. Since graduating in theatre in 1997 Sofia has been an Actor, Filmmaker, and a Secondary School Teacher. Reviewing theatre is something she thoroughly enjoys and she loves to see great theatre. As a musician Sofia is known throughout the UK she is a folk singer, and is often seen or heard around her native county singing and having fun. Sofia has contributed to loveshrewsbury.com for over a decade and enjoys sharing her views on theatre. Sofia has one daughter and grew up in Church Stretton.

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