Like Nico herself, this theatrical experience is resolutely enigmatic, fraught with anxiety, and ends sooner than expected. With oblique references to the German-born world citizen’s life, and aurally driven by her avant-garde 1968 album The Marble Index, The Nico Projectmay be a revelation for devotees of a woman once described as “famous but not popular.” For everyone else, this co-production by the Melbourne International Arts Festival, Manchester International Festival and Royal Court theatre company is likely to feel like a dark 50-minute experiment with fleeting moments of beauty, whose context remains unclear.

The Nico Project The Nico Project. Photo © Joseph Lynn

A model who became an actor and musician, Nico was associated with many famous men including John Cale, Jim Morrison, Alain Delon and Federico Fellini. Collaborators, lovers or both, their talent and her own beauty overshadowed Nico’s strange, single-minded creativity. So it’s apt that this tribute 30 years after her death is the work of an all-female creative team. Co-created by actor Maxine Peakeand director Sarah Frankcom, The Nico Projectalso features young female musicians and singers from Britain’s Royal Northern College of Music, plus...