Irish singer Camille O’Sullivan has become as much a Fringe institution as the rain. Her new show Feel is a collection of old and new favourites performed in her familiar passionate and emotionally-charged style; with a new and welcome sense of intimacy.
The comic asides and the audience interaction are mostly gone. Here, Camille focuses on the songs, treating them as stories in a book which she opens in theatrical style at the start of the performance. Then, as she peels back the layers of her costume, she strips back the songs of Cave, Waits and others and delivers them with such style and power that they take on lives of their own, filling the Pleasance Grand with their tales of doomed love, betrayal and despair.
As with last year’s Chameleon, the stage is littered with a collection of trinkets and objects, as if Camille is spending an hour rediscovering lost treasures in the attic. She interacts with a few, also using a toy piano and chimes to provide random accompaniment as the emotion of her performance takes hold.
She’s backed by a trio of musicians on drums, piano and guitar. When the full band is playing together, the result is impressively full, carrying the rockier numbers in Feel’s set on crashing waves of sound. When the music is stripped back – completely, as with a standout solo vocal performance of Amsterdam – the effect is mesmerising: Camille’s voice cracks and purrs with emotion as she lets the songs inhabit her, resulting in a spellbinding performance which holds the audience in its velvet grip.
Feel demonstrates that Camille O’Sullivan’s position as a Fringe must-see act is justified: here is a set so drenched with emotion and dripping with raw power it makes the audience forget all about the downpour outside.
Camille O’Sullivan: Feel runs until Aug 29 (not 15, 18, 24 or 27) at Pleasance Grand at 20:00. More details here.