By Jen Bolsover
Allow me to break free from critical detachment for a moment. I’m well aware that it’s generally considered bad practice to critique the venue in which a show takes place rather than focusing solely on the show itself, but on this occasion I feel I must.
Camille is a beautiful, intricately crafted show. It’s delicate, subtle and precise, and it suffers badly from the noise bleeding from an overamped show in Summerhall’s Roundabout space. To some extent noise bleed is an unavoidable aspect of the Fringe – there’s nothing Summerhall could reasonably be expected to do about the occasional police siren or the gentle ripple of chatter from the courtyard – but there is no reason why Roundabout shows have to be so excessively loud that they become an unwanted soundscape in a different show. Summerhall really needs to address its sound levels or at least its scheduling in future years, because the current setup is detrimental and disrespectful to the quieter show.
To Kamila Klamut’s credit, she does not allow the racket to disrupt her performance. She is absolutely in the moment from start to finish, bringing Camille Claudel to life as an angry and betrayed woman left to rot in an asylum. The audience is shown no more than brief glimpses into her life before her incarceration, and nothing is made explicit about her career, her associations with Rodin, or her difficult relationship with her family. People can, if they choose, learn more from the short but detailed biography on the programme sheet, but it’s an enhancement rather than a necessity. The performance is compelling even without prior knowledge of its subject.
Klamut is joined by musician Ewa Pasikowska, whose instrumental contributions serve to underscore, highlight and challenge by turns. It’s a simple but highly effective device, and the manner in which she weaves in and out of Camille’s reality is satisfyingly unsettling. Bartosz Radziszewski’s lighting design is excellent, making great use of darkness and shadow to isolate and imprison Camille.
Whether as an introduction to a lesser-known artist or simply as a show in its own right, Camille is a dark, frequently hypnotic piece of high-quality theatre.