If pantomimes, lavish ballets and big West End musicals are not your idea of Christmas fun, the Apollo theatre has something very different to offer in the form of Camille O’Sullivan, a feisty Irish singer with a voice that will sooth your weary soul and replace your festive mulled wine cravings with the sudden desire for a double Jack Daniels and coke.
Bringing her show The Dark Angel to the West End for a limited month run, O’Sullivan brings a new form of entertainment to the usually musical-dominated Shaftesbury Avenue. Tucked in between the high energy tribute show Thriller Live and the filthy mouthed puppets of Avenue Q, the Apollo becomes a concert hall each night for O’Sullivan’s eclectic set list.
With the aid of her talented band, the singer works her way through everything from a husky, dark performance of Tom Wait’s Misery Is The River Of The World and a heart achingly beautiful version of Jonny Cash’s cover Hurt, to French folk songs, Bob Dylan and David Bowie.
With each song she transforms herself, one minute acting the sweet Irish Catholic girl, the next the bawdy French strumpet. Mixing elements of burlesque and cabaret into her performance, her clothes begin Edwardian lady and finish tour bus chic, almost persuading you that sequinned knickers are a good idea. As she banters between songs and swigs from her bottle of red wine, the line between illusion and reality are blurred as it remains unclear whether her drunk, slightly Tracy Emin gone wild, persona is real or a façade as she regularly slips back into endearing sweetness.
With a voice that evokes both P J Harvey and Edif Piaf and changes song to song from smooth, soothing tones to that of a woman who has smoked twenty a day for years and relies on whisky for subsistence, The Dark Angel is pure escapism and a unique Christmas treat.