David Bowie’s Where Are We Now? always seemed a haunting lyric to award-winning singer and actress Camille O’Sullivan. It seemed even more so after his death.
It now provides the title of the show she is bringing to Theatre Royal Brighton on Monday, November 26 at 8pm.
“His second last album had the song on it, and the moment I heard it, I was hooked, and I listened to it even more after he passed away, and you were just really thinking ‘Yes, where are we now? It was the year Bowie died and Leonard Cohen died and the year we got Donald Trump and Brexit, and you were just thinking ‘What on earth is happening?’ now that Bowie and Cohen have gone, and the song just became really emotive for me.
“And to me, my show is centred around it.”
Drawing on Bowie and Cohen, plus PJ Harvey and Nick Cave, Camille sets out to explore the beauty of the age as well as its turbulence to give you an “unforgettable night of madness, beauty, darkness and love.”
“To me the Bowie song is like a complement, it is just piano and voice and it is just like a hymn in a way. It is an anthem. It makes me feel closer to him.
“I was an architect before I became a singer, and we were brought up in a small village. It was very much records on all the time, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, but through my sister’s bedroom I heard Bowie. So many people have said this since he passed away, but he just brings you into another world. You just feel so emotional when you listen to him. You just feel that anything is possible. It was only later that I worked out the chronology of his albums. At the time, I just realised he was this fantastic chameleon creature, neither woman, nor man. He changed so much in his music and always showed so many different facets of himself.
“And then when I became a singer, I realised that my real interest was who you can be on stage. You can become someone else… or maybe you just become larger than life on stage. I love the notion, I suppose, that I was an architect before and then a painter and I am singing, and I love the fact that there is more to you than just the one thing. I love the power of what a song can make you do and what it can make you feel. When you sing, you have got to commit. You cannot do it half-heartedly. You have got to really go for it.”
So where are we now then?
Camille isn’t promising answers: “I just can’t believe that Bowie has gone. But I usually sit down and it is like a gentle conversation with the audience and then you feel that as long as there is sun, as long as there is rain, as long as there is you and as long as there is me, then things are cool. It is pretty communal. You feel we can carry on…”