Reviews Edinburgh Fringe 2019 Published 19 August 2019

Edinburgh fringe review: Phoenix by Richard Marsh and Jessica Sharman

“Love and tinsel town sleaze”: Francesca Peschier writes a country and western song in response to this solo show about music and fatherhood.

Francesca Peschier

‘Phoenix’ is at Pleasance as part of the 2019 Edinburgh fringe

The plot of Phoenix has, by its own admission, all the elements that make up a great country song. Now, anyone who has read anything by me that even comes NEAR to talking about Dolly Parton will know that I loved country before it was cool (thank you Lil’Nas, honestly – it is deeply appreciated). The magic of country is that it tells a story, and in that spirit, and hopefully without too many spoilers, I’d like to sing a lil’song for y’all tonight.

*Okay, just use your imaginations now. Think the Porter Wagoner show but a familiar Jonny Cash tune and accompanying swagger.*

*adjusts sparkly Stetson and strums guitar*

Well I started th’Fringe at seventeen
And since then, each year that I’ve been
There’s been one person shows ‘bout paternity.
Now I don’t blame ‘em, it’s a rich topic
And’all the better set to Musi-ck
And there’s gold and stardust in Gallo country.

Gallo plays a father who didn’t name his son Sue
But this fictional dad Ash Phoenix is a bit shit too
Though the brunt of the blame is laid with Ma’s Hollywood dream.
She dreams of an Oscar, he of a Grammy
But he’s left behind to play mammy
As she waves goodbye from a scarlet limousine.

Ash Phoenix presses pause on his celebrity plans
To be a literal and figurative one-man band
Juggling a difficult kiddo and a beat-up guitar.
California and a damaged good guy
It’s a slice of Americana cherry pie
Teaching you never to give up on bein’a star.

Writers Marsh and Sharman build a world of blue jean
And even if the songs aren’t quite Springsteen
There’s fourth of July magic in Phoenix’s joy and pain.
Gallo’s performance is of baby-daddy hellion
Lost in a fire of liquor and teenage rebellion
Guided by the directorial sparkle dust of good ol’ Lucy Jane.*

*(Atkinson, let me off – rhyming is hard)

Now country songs don’t tend to make shows
And certainly, don’t feature multi instrumental impresarios
But Gallo shines with drums, guitar and looping treadle.
Snippets of songs take us from Parton to Cash
The rhythm of conversations drummed out to a cymbal clash
It’s amazing what you can achieve with a bit of verve and a loop pedal.

Phoenix is an old story of love and tinsel town sleaze
That doesn’t really transcend its Hollywood cheese
Yet is full of heart and warnings against questionable parenting decisions.
Even if you’re pissed mum’s gone off to be a star
You probably shouldn’t raise your baby in an open-mic bar
But at least you’ll teach him the cost of a cup of ambition.

Phoenix is on at Pleasance at 1.20pm until 26th August 2019. More info and tickets here


Francesca Peschier

Dr Francesca Peschier is a dramaturg, lecturer, writer and ex-designer based in the New Works department at the Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse. When not writing about or watching theatre she concerns herself with back-combing her hair to Dolly Parton heights and trying to create passable aerial hoop routines to goth rock classics.

Edinburgh fringe review: Phoenix by Richard Marsh and Jessica Sharman Show Info

Produced by Richard Marsh & Something For The Weekend

Directed by Lucy Jane Atkinson

Cast includes Andy Gallo



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