This French-Irish songstress has a reputation for exuberant and exhilarating shows, and this showcase of songs by Nick Cave only cements her standing as an outstanding performer.
The sets and costumes are significantly pared back to some of O’Sullivan’s previous tours – the main outfit change we get is a lockdown-favourite dressing gown, the trapeze of a previous show is replaced with a humdrum plastic chair, and the lighting is pedestrian – but the quality of her voice is undiminished.
Cave’s song range from spiritual romance to grotesque sideshow, and we get both barrels. We get the tenderness of Into My Arms and the audience-participating rendition of The Ship Song, and the expletive-laden gun-toting shouting match of Stagger Lee.
O’Sullivan’s self-effacing patter makes much of her being out of shape or a little less together than her ageing promo shots suggest, but her voice and presence are as strong as ever.
While she sings the praises of the Playhouse as a venue, and former director Caroline Richardson in particularly, it is hard to believe that she wouldn’t be more suited to a standing venue. There is so much energy and passion in her performances, that it seems actively rude to sit by watching them.
O’Sullivan says she is lucky to be able to sing Cave’s songs. I’d say the luck is the other way round.