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Stuart King

Review: MUSIK at Leicester Square Theatre

Jonathan Harvey’s egomaniacal creation Billie Trix — self-proclaimed icon, rock-star and screen-goddess — hits the stage again, nearly 20 years after Frances Barber first inhabited the outrageous character in Closer to Heaven. “I Am Art” she declares - and who are we to argue?

Musik Frances Barber as Billie Trix in MUSIK by Pet Shop Boys and Jonathan Harvey. Photo Marc Brenner.

In a blistering 60 minute journey, the self-obsessed legend bawdily reminisces about her childhood as Hildegard (daughter to an East German mother who smelled of cabbage soup) who, desperate for a life of art, sets sail for New York with Otto (a cabin boy with hair like Shredded Wheat and a Walnut-Whip for a penis - one of several references to the current incumbent of the White House)!

For an actress of 62, Ms Barber offers an energised masterclass worthy of a gal considerably junior in years. In a figure-hugging black bustier - and occasionally straddling a cocktail bar stool - she recounts Billie’s escapades through a non-stop, delusional, coke-fuelled, whiskey-swigging, garrulous ramble, in which she shares her life spent crisis-crossing the globe encountering everyone from Mick Jagger and Andy Warhol to the Dalai Llama and Jean-Paul Sartre. Her strutting, swaggering, ranting and dead-pan asides are only parked when she takes a turn at the microphone to sing the six songs provided by the Pet Shop Boys (who as co-writers, were sat a few rows in front of this reviewer on Press Night, and were clearly enjoying every moment).

The squeamish and faint-hearted may wince at some of the more vulgar references (literally nothing and no-one is sacred - even the venue is scathingly dubbed a ‘community hall’), but the out-loud guffawing from the overwhelming majority of audience members makes this a must-see for anyone who enjoys irreverent hilarity.