Edinburgh Festival: Queen of the Fringe Camille O'Sullivan to bring intimate new show to Underbelly

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After a two year break, the Queen of the Fringe, enchanting French/Irish songbird Camille O'Sullivan, is set to return to Edinburgh this August with a very different show she hopes will surprise her legion of fans in the Capital.

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The singer and actress who has been a staple of the Fringe since making her debut in 2004 returns in Camille O’Sullivan: Dreaming, which she describes as a very different type of show to her previous ones. Darker, with a more spiritual energy that will transform each song into an intense, emotional experience, Dreaming will run at Underbelly's The Cow Barn, better known locally as the Reid Hall, Bristo Square, nightly at 7.30pm from August 3-28 (not 10,15,22).

Famed for her sell-out Fringe seasons of mesmeric performances of the works of Jacques Brel, Nick Cave and Bowie, O'Sullivan’s hypnotic delivery has taken her around the world since her first appearance in Edinburgh as part of the acclaimed Le Clique cabaret troupe in the early Noughties.

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Camille O'Sullivan is Dreaming at Edinburgh FringeCamille O'Sullivan is Dreaming at Edinburgh Fringe
Camille O'Sullivan is Dreaming at Edinburgh Fringe

In Dreaming, the singer, who eschewed an award-winning career as an architect in favour of life on the stage, will take a far more intimate approach with just musical director Feargal Murray accompanying her on piano.

“Even before Covid I’d said that I would love to come back to the Fringe with just Feargal,” she says, explaining, “I'd done all these years of big rock musical type productions so the idea was it would be just the two of us in a space that allowed an intimacy with the audience. I'm excited about that but also feel a bit vulnerable as there will be nothing to hide behind but the songs and my stories.”

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The show was born out of O’Sullivan’s experience of lockdown, which she admits was a difficult time.

Camille O'SullivanCamille O'Sullivan
Camille O'Sullivan

“There was a stage where I was losing it a bit, thinking, ‘I don't know what I am anymore. I'm not singing, so what the hell am I?’ So Feargal and I went to a wonderful old studio in the middle of a farmyard and just recorded songs my mum, dad, sister and our friends loved. I think we ended up recording about 100 songs in five days, I nearly killed the poor guy but he is brilliant. It was liberating and fun became the premise for Dreaming.”

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The show, she reveals, could well become part of a bigger project reflecting on the last two years.

“There's a new show I'm thinking of doing, which will be called The Art of Falling Apart. Dreaming may be part one of that because during lockdown I did fall apart, as many did and there's nothing wrong with that. Singing is a great way of sharing that; to be vulnerable, joyful and dark, you're bringing all those things together for people. Also, having been through what we have and now going through this terrible situation in Ukraine, some of the songs are now far more powerful than before.”

She adds, “I'm still a bit nervous of going back in front of an audience because, jeez, for two years it’s been just me and my partner, daughter and cat.”

Tickets for Camille O'Sullivan: Dreaming are on sale May 3, priced £14-£21 (weekends) and £18-£19 (weekdays), here.

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