Musik: The Rock Legend Who Taught Madonna All Her Trix
Delusions fuel survival, particularly for faded rock stars. And few aged, deranged rockers come greater than fictional former arena queen Billie Trix, played by Frances Barber in one-woman show Musik.
Back in 2001, Barber stole the show as drug-addled nightclub hostess Billie in the Pet Shop Boys/Jonathan Harvey musical Closer to Heaven. It left us wanting more, and it seems only right and proper that she be given her own show, which now returns to London following a short run last year. Tightly structured at one hour, Musik offers an uncensored insight into Trix’s scandalous life as the ultimate party girl with a “clitoris like a treble clef”.
Descending upon the stage in a headdress that would make Grace Jones look demure, Barber’s Trix wastes no time in dismissing Madonna — who at the time of publication is performing her Madame X show at the nearby Palladium — as a second-rate impersonator. Others who have dared cross this fierce, uncompromising Berlin bombshell include Andy Warhol, the Beatles, and Salvador Dali. The genius of Jonathan Harvey’s script means that despite Trix’s narcissism, we too are outraged that such mere mortals have dared rip of this once fabled performer — a woman who, for all her bravado, is a fragile, loveable creature.
Six songs by Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe accompany Trix’s ravings, and they include the magnificent anthem of defiance Friendly Fire from Closer to Heaven. Whether delivering high-octane disco or a Latin shuffle, the indomitable Barber performs each number with raddled majesty.
Snorting coke, boasting about seducing Prince Harry and Donald Trump (a penis like a walnut, apparently), gyrating across the stage, or tapping her tambourine to signal yet another shift in Trix’s tumultuous career, Barber is a force of nature. By the time she sings the show’s final number — the gloriously hopeful For Every Moment — it is impossible to imagine any other actor possessing the raw talent and guts required to inhabit this at times grotesque yet iconic comic creation.
Musik, Leicester Square Theatre, 6 Leicester Place, WC2H 7BX. Tickets £22.50 - £42.50, until 1 March 2020.
Last Updated 12 February 2020