EDINBURGH FRINGE: Musik at the Assembly Rooms (Bijou) EH2 2LR (venue 20) *****
Musik has been described as a cabaret and as a musical (by Jonathan Harvey and Pet shop Boys Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe).

While it can be classed as both, it is really a full-on dramatic performance, a tour de force, with Frances Barber making the show her own.

It may be her solo show debut, but it knocks spots off many other contributions to the Fringe, and deserves its immediate transferral to London’s Leicester Square Theatre in September.

In this hour-long celebration of all things outrageous, Barber reprises the role she played in the 2001 production Closer to Heaven. Now Billie Trix has her very own show, and Marlene Dietrich and Lotte Lenya wouldn’t have had a chance with her around.

Billie may be a dried-up, drug-addled icon and rock star with Barber’s gravelly voice does justice to the Pet Shop Boys’ songs, and her tremendous presence, looking almost like a Goth with her black clothes, Fenella Fielding-style make-up and silver crucifixes, proves Billie is still a force to be reckoned with as she takes us from post-war Berlin through New York to a telephone box in Soho Square, unashamedly name-dropping as she goes, and blaming the likes of Andy Warhol, Madonna, and the Beatles for stealing her ideas.

You never know what she’s coming out with next as she downs a bottle of Jack Daniels and snorts cocaine. Where did ‘I flipped back the flaps of my hijab’come from, for example? It’s anarachic but it’s also raw, gritty and sad.

A curse to her mother, Billie nevertheless declares ‘I am a gift to the world’, and Barber is certainly a gift to the Fringe. As a singer she can also claim the title of one of the songs, Ich bin music – I am music!

Musik is at the Assembly Rooms (Bijou) until Aug 24 at 9.40pm. Tickets from £15 with concessions.
assemblyfestival.com/0131 623 3030Image: TheOtherRichard