Review Roundup: See What Critics Had to Say About Pet Shop Boys' MUSIK

Review Roundup: See What Critics Had to Say About Pet Shop Boys' MUSIK

Writer Jonathan Harvey and Pet Shop Boys Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe are currently presenting the world premiere of a new cabaret show at the 2019 Edinburgh Fringe.

'MUSIK' is a 50-minute, one-woman show with an outrageous book by Jonathan Harvey and six songs by Tennant and Lowe including four new ones written for this show. It will star multi-award-winning actress Frances Barber reprising her role as Billie Trix from the 2001 musical, 'Closer to Heaven'.

'MUSIK' will run from 5 to 24 August at Assembly Rooms (Bijou venue), 54 George Street, Edinburgh, EH2 2LR followed by a run at Leicester Square Theatre September 3-7.

Let's see what the critics had to say...


Veronica Lee, Evening Standard: Frances Barber, Jonathan Harvey and the Pet Shop Boys is a tasty combo to savour, and Musik is definitely the sum of its parts - witty, easy on the ears and as camp as a row of scouts. It is their second theatre collaboration, following 2001's Closer to Heaven, in which Barber created the character Billie Trix, a dried-up, drug-addled narcissistic rock star.

Mark Fisher, The Guardian: Scripted by Jonathan Harvey, the performance shows how qualities that in others would come across as arrogance, conceit and Germanic froideur, in Trix seem entirely justified. Time and again, she has proved the naysayers wrong and has had the power not only to reinvent herself, but to bring peace where there is conflict. We laugh - a lot - in support of her resilience.

Ann Treneman, The Times: This is not a musical so much as a musikal, something sketchier than the real deal with a black cabaret twist. The star is the drug-addled rock chick and muse Billie Trix, played with what can only be called staggering style by Frances Barber. As she tells us about her life she sings six songs by Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe of Pet Shop Boys, four of which are new.

Paul Vale, The Stage: 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.

Dominic Cavendish, The Telegraph: Anticipation levels were high - Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe being the most successful British pop duo of all time and all that; but responses were mixed to say the least. The broad criticism was that the dialogue was flat, the characterisation thin and some of the songs on the dead-parrot side. Coming from an act that, from their first hit West End Girls onwards, had ushered a sense of the theatrical into pop, it ranked as a let-down.

Liam Rudden, Edinburgh Evening News: Jonathan Harvey is at his most biting as he cleverly weaves together satire, pop and in-jokes - lines revisited from Closer To Heaven get a particularly warm reception from fans present. It's a rapid-fire script at times as brutal as the architecture in the footage projected during the opening number, Mongrel, one of six in the show.

David Pollock, iNews: Musik has been described as "the new Pet Shop Boys musical." Which isn't entirely untrue, as it features six new songs by Britain's smartest and most pop-culturally astute electro-pop group, and is technically a follow-up to Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe's 2001 stage musical Closer to Heaven. Yet those expecting a celebration of the Pet Shops' music and career might have been disappointed. Instead, this one-person cabaret show is devoted entirely to the character of Billie Trix, the narrator of Closer to Heaven, so one stand-out selling point is replaced by another; instead of a Pet Shop Boys musical, what we have is an hour of character comedy from the actor Frances Barber.

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