Leicester Square Theatre, London – until 1 March 2020
Billie Trix. Icon. Rock star. Screen goddess. Drug addict. Billie has lived a life of excess and shares it all in her new one-woman show. Her journey takes us from post-war Berlin to the rock arenas of the world, via the Vietnam war, Andy Warhol’s Factory, and a year in a Soho Square phone box.
Frances Barber gives one of the performances of the year (yes I know it is only February) as Billie Trix, who originally appeared in Closer to Heaven and reunites with Jonathan Harvey (Beautiful Thing, Coronation Street) and the Pet Shop Boys. In a rare combination of monologue and musical Trix is a combination of Marianne Faithful, Klaus Nomi, Grace Jones and Nico as she recounts her life through songs and a lot of cocaine, at one stage she tells the audience she doesn’t do “working class drugs like pills”.
Born at the end of the Second World War in Berlin after a Russian soldier rapes her mother (Mongrel) Trix knows she’s destined for better things and at the age 15, completely naked, she travels on a boat to New York, inspires Andy Warhol with some soup, ends the Vietnam war and becomes the Queen of Disco but not before dealing with her stalkers (Madonna, The Pet Shop Boys) and causing the Duke and Duchess of Sussex to flee to Canada.
There is a real sense of fun and it is hilarious. When talking about finding out about the Berlin Wall coming down after being in a three-year K hole Trix exclaims: “I didn’t want it to come down, it kept my mother away from me” or how she was so busy touring she didn’t realise she was pregnant until she gave birth on stage. It is ridiculously camp and wild and that is what makes the character of Trix seem so real.
A small disclaimer. I like The Pet Shop Boys but I don’t adore them, my favourite material of theirs tends to be sung by other people such as their collaboration with Dusty Springfield for the 1989 Scandal soundtrack. Their six new compositions are inspired by the era on which Trix has lived from the Weimar cabaret style Mongrel to the disco track Ich Bein Musik, with her husky Germanic voice Barber gives a Marlene Dietrich air to her songs.
Musik is a comedy monologue like no other. This is bound to become a classic and much talked about production and performance.
Musik is on until 1 March. Tickets from £22.50.