Writer Jonathan Harvey and Pet Shop Boys’ Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe have created in Musik a made to measure role for Frances Barber who stars as outrageous Billie Trix, an icon, rock star, screen goddess and drug addict. This new show explores the backstory of Billie Trix from the original London run of Closer to Heaven.
It’s a potent role that showcases Barber’s amazing skills as a performer; a mesmerising female libertine. The hour long one woman show is a fantastic and very funny assault on the senses. She is out to mock and shock; bringing to life a larger than life character. If Harvey has been influenced by the halcyon days of Marianne Faithfull and Amanda Lear that just adds to the significance of the role which Barber executes so beautifully.
This is also an interesting look at modern art, or what can be perceived as art. Billie Trix has met them all: Warhol, Dalì, Pollock, Zappa, Hirst and even a young Donald Trump. This is enhanced name-dropping and with each name came a very funny and naughty anecdote. Tennant and Lowe also take a look at the fauxness of celebrity and via clever musical numbers deconstruct the power of an icon. This linked to Harvey’s swish and swirl of his pen like a satirical sword, makes for seamless dialogue that Barber has a huge control over.
This is high octane, blistering entertainment lampooning the premise that because she has suffered for her art that must make her a good artist. Trix loves her life and is enjoying and savouring every moment with a vibrancy and fullness that is just spectacular.
This is very stylish theatre directed by Josh Seymour and what is achieved is a total sense of contentment as the fade to black happens as Billie Trix leaves the theatre through the audience cackling and cursing in her own inimitable style. Frances Barber gives a tour de force. Superb!
Photos by Marc Brenner