Vagabonds: My Phil Lynott Odyssey – Civic Theatre, Dublin

Writer: Robert Mountford and Chris Larner

Director: Chris Larner

Reviewer: Laura Marriott

Cú Chullain is a traditional Irish legend, known for his beauty, warrior attributes and his incredible feats of strength. On the surface he seems to have little in common with an Irish legend of a different kind, Thin Lizzy front man Phil Lynott. The Dubliner, armed only with his bass guitar and attitude went on to become Ireland’s first rock star. Both of these figures are heroes to many. Vagabonds questions what it means to be a hero and who gets to be one.

One night on Grafton Street, looking up at the Lynott statue, Cú Chullain challenges performer Robert Mountford to tell the story of a great Irish hero. Mountford tells us about his brother Dave and their relationship with the rocker Lynott. This odyssey takes the audience through Mountford’s attempts to discover his cultural identity, exploring how Irish he feels and his relationship with his older brother. He was raised in Sutton Coldfield, a suburb of Birmingham. As a part-Kashmiri young boy adopted into an Irish Catholic family he found a wealth of similarities with Lynott’s early life. Culturally confused Mountford has a strong love of Ireland but doesn’t know if this is where he belongs. Vagabonds tells the story of his family, of growing up and establishing his identity, and of the role Thin Lizzy, and Lynott in particular, played in that process.

The interludes in which Mountford plays the voice of his father are very funny and seem touchingly real. Mountford goes from naïve, enthusiastic youth to Phil Lynott, to Cú Chullain, to his older brother with apparent ease. He maintains the energy throughout this assured performance, which includes character changes, accents and costume switches in quick fire succession. The pace remains high at all points and holds the audience’s attention at all times.

The title comes from a Thin Lizzy album Vagabond of the Western World. The performances this week at the Civic Theatre are timed excellently to coincide with the Vibe for Philo 2017 concerts. It is a reminder that heroes never die. Vagabonds is more than a tribute show. Frequently laugh out loud funny with a delicate vein of sadness running through it this one man show is an excellent start to the New Year and a worthwhile watch for anyone who has ever looked for a hero.

Runs until 7th January 2017 | Image: contributed

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