Date: 31st March 2011
Where: The Swan Theatre, Stratford Upon Avon
What: The Rape of Lucrece
Prior to this performance, I was totally unfamiliar with Camille O’Sullivan, and I must admit not that well-versed in the Bard’s narrative poem, the Rape of Lucrece.
So it would be fair to say that I didn’t know what to expect from a one-hour-twenty-minute performance by one actor accompanied only by piano.
It is fair to say that I left the theatre little short of astounded by the physicality of Ms. O’Sullivan’s performance and her effortless calling to memory of the poem without relying on cues from others, in a performance which was stark and overwhelming in its timing and sheer brilliance.
Camille O’Sullivan entered and placed a pair of (army) boots on the stage which was otherwise empty except for the piano and four stacks of foolscap paper.
For the first half of the performance, she adopted the role and voicing of Tarquin whose lust for Lucrece has overcome his better senses.
It is whilst O’Sullivan writhed on her back to depict the dread act of rape that she switched and adopts the persona of the violated Lucrece for the second half of the poem.
She plays the part of the bewildered Lucrece in a manner that is completely believable and heart-wrenching and left many members of the audience, on this particular night, in tears or on the verge.
Feargal Murray’s piano work is equally stark, but compelling and by turns melodic and dissonant.
Very occasionally, Ms O’Sullivan’s performance is so physical that the flow of her words is lost for a moment but this is a small flaw in a multi-faceted jewel of a performance.