Camille O’Sullivan talks about her show Chameleon

  • The List
  • 5 August 2010

This article is from 2010

Camille O’Sullivan talks about her show Chameleon

The Irish chanteuse talks G&Ts, Scooby Doo and more.

The first time I set foot in Edinburgh for the Fringe was 2004. I was supposed to perform at the Wigwam Tent, but at the last moment the venue went bankrupt — I was saved by the lovely Speigeltent who took my show and also put me in the great new show La Clique, which I toured for several years around the globe. I was terrified but it was the best of times, a bit like running away to the circus. I’d heard about Edinburgh and it didn’t disappoint – I can still remember standing, G&T in hand, passing out flyers and putting up posters for my show. I lost a lot of money that year but I had a great time and was delighted to end up in a Stephen Frears film after being spotted in the tent by Ewan Bremner. I can remember thinking, ‘if I can make it here, I can make it anywhere’ because Edinburgh is a world stage, instilling confidence in you as a performer.

So far I’ve been lucky that people seem to enjoy the joyful madness and the dark melancholy of the show – they love a good song and the storytelling aspect. I consider myself an emotional performer, I don’t write the songs I sing, so the least I can do is go out there and inhabit the songs and put on the best possible performance that I can.

I never tire of Edinburgh because it’s somewhere you care about. I really appreciate the people who come and support the show and I’ve had a great opportunity to go and see some of the best shows I’ve ever seen. There’s a lot of nervousness about reviews but the one thing I’ve learnt is that in a funny way you need to lose money to get to the next stage. I go drinking and I have a good time. I remember one year being down at the Assembly bar in a Scooby Doo outfit – that’s what the festival is about, the experiences you have and the experiences you can share. When I first started the show I wasn’t sure if the dark theatrical aspect would appeal – it’s about exploring the dark and the light of yourself. I’m not interested in Camille O’Sullivan as much as I am in inhabiting the songs and their stories. It’s also a great excuse to dress up, entertain and live a fantasy – I’m not very good at reality! The show’s called Chameleon this year, which essentially is what the shows have always been about, revealing all your different aspects and becoming something else. It’s about intimacy; no fourth wall on stage.

I’m quite terrified before I go on stage, and that never changes. But once you’re up there you forget and feel like a child expressing yourself, as uninhibited as it can be. The audience seems to like the emotive side to the show and want to connect with what’s happening, so hopefully I give them the opportunity for a few laughs and some tears (for the right reasons!) while sharing my obsession for this music I love.

Camille O’Sullivan – Chameleon, Assembly @ George Street, 623 3030, until 30 Aug (not 10, 17, 24), 10.25pm, £18.50 (£16.50)

Camille O'Sullivan - Chameleon

  • 3 stars

'Raunchy, dangerously fragile' ★★★★★ (Edinburgh Evening News). Camille enjoys a formidable reputation for her dramatic interpretations of Brel, Cave, Waits, Radiohead and Bowie. Chameleon-like, each song becomes a different character with its story to tell. Edinburgh sell-out 2004-09, she's stunned audiences with 5-star…

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