Review: Musik (Rating 5/5)
An avant-garde, slick piece of cabaret with a script by Jonathan Harvey that is shot through with a dark humour, new music written by the Pet Shop Boys, and a fantastic performance from Frances Barber in the role of Billie Trix, a musician, artist, heroine, victim and icon in her own mind.
Trix tells her life story from her birth in Berlin through to starting anew in Australia over sixty years later. Opening in a costume resembling Madonna’s recent Madame X reinvention, complete with eye patch, she ploughs through a range of cultural references where no subject is taboo and facts are there to be played with, manipulated and disregarded.
Barber inhabits the role with a ferocity and defiance that extends to her demanding the fireworks at the end of the Tattoo are halted, while at the same time wondering if they’re not actually part of a drugs trip she’s on. Her immersion in the role would make the character and story incredibly convincing if the show was not such an extreme and grotesque parody of the genre it celebrates and satirises.
The songs fit perfectly with the monologue even though Barber delivers them in a voice that makes it unlikely they would ever be heard on a Radio 2 playlist. From start to finish this is a show that embodies the sense of adventure and disregard for convention that is the Fringe at its finest.
Assembly Rooms until 24 August
Review: Before 30 (Rating 2/5)
Tom Hartwell’s solo show sees him playing a Deliveroo driver living in a tent in London as the only housing he can afford in the city, and contemplating the lack of achievement or certainty in his life as his 30th birthday approaches.
The problem is that Hartwell doesn’t seem to have decided whether it’s a stand-up routine or a play. The asides and general observations could be the start of a good, if not entirely original, exploration of what it’s like to be young and middle class in London, while the story as a whole could shine a light on why the pressure to succeed is leading to ever greater levels of depression and how to escape from it and regain your sanity.
As it is, the struggles never feel real, and the comedy moments, such as Felicity and James who are the first people to have everything, too often come across as lazy stereotypes.
It’s pleasant and unchallenging, but that shouldn’t be the main thing you can say about a show.
Underbelly Cowgate until 25 August