Camille Claudel was a talented and tormented sculptor and also the partner of artist and painter Auguste Rodin. Claudel died over 70 years ago whilst in a mental asylum, where she had been living for 30 years. She struggled with mental illness and personal anguish and this pain and suffering sets the tone of the performance. Camile is a passionate and obscure drama that offers little in the way of explanation. It is elegant, traumatising, bewildering and expresses an abrasive and violent conclusion.
Camille is performed by Kamila Klamut, with live music from Ewa Pasikowska. The performance is an abstract and delicate one. It does not present much in the way of narration or drama, instead it offers the mental state of Camille Claudel through dark and moody lighting and long periods of silence. We are plunged into bleak darkness and we remain there for the duration of the performance. There is a subtle alteration of tone when the performer changes costume and the show turns in to an elegant physical theatre performance. Klamut shows her skills as an engaging performer and delivers a disturbing and thought provoking physical piece that gives us further insight into the mind of the protagonist.
Music plays a major role in Camille. Musician Ewa Pasikowska underlines the melancholy with the dark and restrained soundtrack that emphasises the trauma we are witnessing. She plays the piano, violin and also makes inventive use of a wine glass. She rubs the edges of the glass and this creates a haunting whining sound that echoes around the Cairns Lecture Theatre in Summerhall.
Camille is a transgressive and experimental performance with a bleak atmosphere. This tone is sustained for the duration of the show and this does not give much for the audience to grab onto. We witness the mental state of Camille Claudel in violent and abstract ways and only really get to witness her true explosive emotions until the conclusion.