Saturday, 1 August 2009

Over to the dark side (at last)

There’s something a bit magical about getting your hands on your first Fringe ticket of the year.

I’ve just booked to see Camille O’Sullivan, exchanging that pesky online booking fee for a much more enjoyable stroll down the Royal Mile - which is already heaving - to the Fringe office.

A wedding party leaving St Giles’s Cathedral received the same treatment from the crowds as the street theatre nearby, save the odd spectator throwing a pound at the bride and groom.

The couple didn’t seem to mind - if you get married on the Royal Mile in (almost) festival time you must expect a little extra attention. Some people taking photos and gathering around may have, forgivably, thought it was some uncannily realistic performance. It’s one of the upside-down realities of the festival that most interactions are dramatic, most characters you meet are just that, and anything that seems mundane is more than likely the next big thing in realist theatre.

I wanted to see Camille last year, having first heard her sultry vocals in the film Mrs Henderson Presents in 2005. Sadly though, her run of The Dark Angel at the now deceased (in Edinburgh) Spiegeltent was sold out.

The French-Irish songstress’s return to London’s La Clique last December cemented her already striking presence on the UK and Ireland's stages. The tendency of the press to associate her with burlesque, which is undeniably hot at the moment, may have gained her extra attention, but Camille herself rejects this categorisation. From clips I've seen she is outside of any real style. Camille is one of few female singers who are recognised on a first-name basis at the Fringe.

The reviews have frothed and the features gushed; she is more than a few steps down the path to iconography, and when she arrives there any unsavoury reviews will trickle off her impermeable image.

One frankly beautiful quote from Dominic Cavendish's Daily Telegraph review last year stays in my mind: When she sings it's as though her breath is soaked in paraffin; one spark, and the whole room would ignite."

I look forward to being seduced.

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