In an ideal world The Rape Of Lucrece would be a museum piece, a long-ago written relic occasionally brought to the stage to highlight the beauty of The Bard's poem. But as fearless Irish/French cabaret artist Camille O'Sullivan stalked the almost bare stage of the Seymour Centre's York Theatre, this brutal and passionate piece took on a relevance that is almost frightening considering it's now 2013 and the play was written in 1594.
O'Sullivan, accompanied only by Feargal Murray on piano, played alternately Tarquin, the rapist, and then after the act, the victim Lucrece. And with words such as “chaste”, “pure”, “sin” and “shame” flying around it was easy to make the connect between the tragedy of the poem and the modern day. As a performer O'Sullivan has never been afraid to inhabit the darker side of human nature and she certainly wasn't afraid here to really explore the justifications Tarquin is able to convince himself of to commit this crime.
Restricted in her songwriting to the lyrics Shakespeare provided her with, O'Sullivan for the most part pushed the story along through the music, but the piece's most striking accessories were the lighting design and backdrop, both showing that sometimes the simplest of ideas can prove the most effective.
All the accoutrements, however, existed in service to O'Sullivan. This was her show and her performance was captivating.