Fringe First-winner writer, and Oxford chap, Richard Marsh, and songwriter Jessica Sharman combine their hit-making talents in a new one-man musical guaranteed to lodge itself in your head and heart.

Phoenix, at The Old Fire Station, Oxford, tomorrow (Saturday), tells the story of small-town boy Ash Phoenix, who has always dreamt of being a rock star. He sets out for the bright lights of LA, but gets side-tracked by the brighter lights of love.

When Ash unexpectedly becomes a dad, it’s clear there’s only room for one star in the family. And it isn’t him. He battles to raise a son and become a working musician, but the gigging lifestyle does not combine well with being a single parent. He expected sleepless nights over whisky bottles, not milk bottles.

Every thwarted ambition gives Ash more to write songs about, but fewer people to hear them. The play asks whether he can achieve his dreams and be a good father. After all, it’s hard to reach stardom walking on Lego.

The Oxford Times:

The comic musical heartbreaker is a real feat for Andy Gallo. Every note in this one-man musical is generated live by Andy, a gifted musician who learned to sing at choir school and learned to shred by listening to Saxon.

Andy plays drums, keyboard, electric and acoustic guitar and even xylophone on top of singing and performing every character in the show.

Richard Marsh is delighted with the results and happy to be back in Oxford. He says: “I was born in Oxford, then we moved away when I was tiny. Coming as a child to visit my grandparents, I was thrilled by the size of the city. Oxford is where I saw my first play (a panto, at the Apollo), wrote my first play (a panto, not at the Apollo) and went to one of the best gigs of my life.

Read more: Kylie and Gladys rock the palace for Nocturne

“I went to see Supergrass, Beck and Radiohead play in South Park. Chatting to people between sets, a guy asked me who I was excited to see and I said Supergrass and Beck. Emma later told me I’d been talking to the bassist from Radiohead. Who is a very polite human being.

“Cut to 2019 and I’m a parent making his living in the arts and I’ve written Phoenix, a show about a wannabe rock star who accidentally becomes a dad,” he says.

“Being a musician is a really hard career to combine with looking after a small child. It’s noisy, it’s unsettled, the hours are terrible. Which is also true of music.

“Ash Phoenix’s dilemma is a very specific one, but it’s a problem all parents face: the need to earn money to look after your child, when earning that money takes you away from that child. It’s a universal story, that we tell in a unique way – our star Andy Gallo plays guitar, keyboard and drums (often at the same time) as well as every part in the show. You’ve got to see him – he’s like a cuddly octopus. Who can sing.”

We have one chance to see it here, at the Old Fire Station on Saturday, before it heads to Edinburgh.

“If I were you, I’d come!” he laughs. My mum’s coming. Emma’s coming. Radiohead aren’t coming. Actually, I don’t know that for sure. They might be. But in all honesty I’d be surprised, they’re probably busy.

  • Offbeat Festival
  • Phoenix
  • The Old Fire Station, Oxford
  • Saturday, noon