Phoenix review at Pleasance Dome, Edinburgh – ‘a sweet slice of Americana’
Like a mirror image of A Star is Born, this one-man musical set in 1960s America follows Ash Phoenix as his hopes of becoming a famous musician are stemmed by having to raise his son.
The boy’s mum has left him in pursuit of acting stardom, and we follow Ash as he talks and sings about the rift between living for oneself and living for someone else.
This sweet slice of Americana from Richard Marsh (he co-wrote hit show Dirty Great Love Story a few years back) and Jessica Sharman (who’s had huge success writing country songs for groups such as Ward Thomas) covers a lot of ground: single parenthood, knots of love and lies handed from one generation to the next and the price of fame.
As performer Andy Gallo glides from keys to guitar to drums, singing and live looping in between a verse script, we get pastiches of Johnny Cash, a bit of Springsteen, some heart-melting country music, all gently smudged with a musical theatre edge.
Although Gallo’s acting doesn’t quite make sense of the character he’s playing – he’s not entirely convincing as a 20-something wannabe rockstar – his musical ability is amazing.
It’s a tender story, like a romantic country ballad writ large, whose power comes from the notion that life is not as straightforward as dreams are.
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