Musik review at Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh – ‘frenzied comedy with hit-and-miss musical asides’
The character Billie Trix first appeared in the 2001 musical Closer to Heaven written by Jonathan Harvey with a score by Pet Shop Boys.
Originally played by Frances Barber, Trix was a performance artist who acted as a narrator of sorts through the musical. Although rather thinly drawn as a character, her scenes in the show remain the most memorable. This could well be because her scenes offered a distraction from Harvey’s problematic book.
For Musik, the team is reunited with Trix taking centre stage as the outrageous self-styled icon of the world arts scene. It’s a comic tour-de-force for Barber, looking like a cross between Eurovision Madonna and Cruella de Vil. As Trix, she snarls her way through highlights of an eclectic career, furiously name-dropping and oblivious to her many shortcomings. It’s a moment of redemption too for Harvey, whose hilarious snappy script enjoys poking fun at the tropes of the arts and culture.
The curiously slight Pet Shop Boys songs occasionally parody the period, such as the 1970s disco pastiche I Am Musik, but the highlight is easily the anthemic Friendly Fire. Lifted from Closer to Heaven, it provides a brief respite in this otherwise frenzied, full-on character comedy.
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