Mixed-Race Rob Mountford grew up in an Irish suburb of Birmingham. Saddled with a mess of cultural identity, he is seeking answers. Vagabonds- My Phil Lynott Odyssey is a Comic, tragic story about one boy’s messy journey of confused identity, heroes, life and death encountering, among others Ireland’s quintessential Rock Star Phil Lynott.

We chatted with actor Robert Mountford in advance of 4 performances here at The Civic next week.

Could you tell us a little about your journey into acting, and how it all happened for you?

The story goes that when I was about two we went to a charity show and the local priest did a song in a blue wig and tutu and it kept me laughing for the rest of my infancy. The bug never left me and I joined a local youth theatre and started appearing in plays. I realized this was what I wanted to spend my grown up life doing too. When you’re a kid everyone asks you what you’re going to be when you’re older and when I said ‘an actor’, I got sympathetic smiles and words of warning ‘not many actors work, you know’, ‘you won’t make a living’ – at 18 I went to University and while I was there I decided that I still really wanted to be an actor and I started applying to drama schools and fortunately got into RADA in London. From there I got an agent and into the big wide world.

What do you wish someone had told you when you were starting out?

It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Keep working hard, be brave and trust what you can do. Maybe they did tell me that and I ignored it!

What’s your favourite part of the process of acting?

The day you get offered a part! No, I love the rehearsal process, discovering who your character is, how they fit into the world and the freedom to try different things out to see what works and what doesn’t.

If you hadn’t been an actor, what would you have done?

I really have no idea! I was so single minded about it, I didn’t think of anything else. Although, as an actor I’ve had lots of other jobs so I know I’d have made a very bad builder, a pretty good barman, a slightly confused antique dealer and a stressed events manager.

Can you tell us about Vagabonds?

Vagabonds – My Phil Lynott Odyssey is a story about heroes – what makes a hero? And why we need them.
That’s neat isn’t it? Really, Vagabonds is a sprawling mess of ideas scrambling to find their way together – with an actor on stage desperately striving to make his one man show work, a slightly bonkers Cu Chullain trying to be master of ceremonies– all the while attempting to tell the inspirational Rock n’Roll story of Phil Lynott. The result is a strange, sometimes absurd, funny, tragic odyssey.

What do you hope audiences will take away from watching Vagabonds?

Joy I hope! Along with my co-writer Chris Larner we’ve tried to make something funny, off-the-wall, wrenchingly sad with memories, dreams and experiences that we all recognize.

What is next for you?

After I get the boat back to England I’m going straight into rehearsals for the Birmingham Rep in ‘Anita and Me’, Meera Syal’s novel that was made into a film and now a stage production. I’m playing ‘Me’s’ Dad – still can’t believe I’m now in the ‘dads’ bracket!

Do you have any Dream Roles?

I played ‘Macbeth’ last year which has to be up there. I’d love to create a mad, funny role – a Basil Fawlty or a Rik from the Young Ones – I’ll keep working on it.

And finally, what was the last TV show you binge-watched? How many episodes did you see in a sitting?

Boardwalk Empire – Steve Buscemi is amazing, I love crime dramas and period pieces and this was a work of genius. I wish I had time to binge-watch – I’m afraid it was spread out over quite a period.

VAGABONDS -MY PHIL LYNOTT ODYSSEY, Thursday 5th Jan 3pm & 8.15pm, Friday 6th & Saturday. 7th January 8:15pm.