Camille O’Sullivan has brought her new show "Where Are We Now?" to 2017 Edinburgh Festival Fringe at Underbelly’s Circus Hub on the Meadows (Venue 360) and, as the title suggests, Camille is asking not only herself, but all of us, questions about not only ourselves but the very structures of religions, governments and societies around us that make up this world that we all live in for the common good or the common bad.
Through the music and words of musicians and performers that have a close personal resonance with Camille O’Sullivan, we are from the moment she takes to the stage taken on an almost magical mystery tour through the works of very individual artists such as Leonard Cohen, Nick Cave, Jacques Brel and David Bowie…artists who like Camille are constantly questioning the world around them and through their work leaving a legacy for us all to reflect upon.
“Where Are We Now?” follows closely upon last year’s work “The Carny Dream”. In fact the two were in development in overlapping time. The two works are, however, very different in their content and message, but there are similarities too, a bit like opposite sides of a coin.
As always with any performance work, Camille gives the impression of artistic chaos, but there is nothing chaotic about the way this work is structured as every word, note and sound-bite has its unique place is the larger performance. “Where Are We Now?” is a little bit like a magical woven tapestry with a very clear picture that perhaps needs more than one visit to a show to ever view in proper perspective as there are so many elements (some not obvious to start with) there. This tapestry of sound, words and music is very fragile, it almost floats just somewhere out there, and if you try to pull a thread too hard, you run the risk of unravelling it.
Camille as a performer is on classic form in this production with her own very individual interpretations of some classic songs that include– Jacques Brel – Marieke, David Bowie – Rock’n’Roll Suicide and Time, Nick Cave – The Ship Song and the very prophetic Leonard Cohen - The Future. Camille O’Sullivan is a stage performer at heart and watching her total immersion into not only the world that she has created for a show, but also the world that the music and words of a song can create, is always something special to watch happen on stage.
This is a new work, it needs to be experienced by the audience, and I really don’t want to give too much of the show or its contents away in this review as this show can be whatever you want it to be – simple entertainment for 90 minutes, an exploration of where we all are or a personal exploration of where you are as a person. How you view some of the show depends too on your own beliefs and viewpoints in life. The words of these songs ask many questions of the fabrics that make up our society, our religious beliefs, our governments and our social structures. There is at times a very religious feel to some of the structure of the music and the rhythm of the words – a bit like a very old mass or plain-song at times, but there is also that element of being bombarded constantly with the sounds and sound-bites of our modern world. Listen to the sound-bites, they all have relevance and the two different ones that talk so differently about the hard currency of worldly money and the currency of our hopes, dreams and ambitions as individuals say a lot in a few seconds about this show.
In the end, you as a person have to decide “Where Are We Now?”. Are there (as the words of the song) always cracks to let the light shine through? Only you can answer that question, are you an optimist or a pessimist – has someone re-opened Pandora’s Box this time and allowed the very greedy to steal even the hope that was left at the very bottom of the box...is that really a bright light at the end of the tunnel or the express train coming towards you?
Whatever your views on where we are, where you are, this is an almost magical journey with Camille O’Sullivan to not only ask the questions, but perhaps find some answers to them.
Review by Tom King
Interview with Camille O' Sullivan
Ahead of this years "Where Are We Now" show, Camille O' Sullivan was kind enough to take some time out from her very busy performance schedule and do a Q & A interview for us.
Click here to go to Camille O' Sullivan: Where Are We Now? Q & As