Dancing in the Moonlight: A Play About Phil Lynott

Sussex Playwrights Reviews
Dancing in the Moonlight: A Play About Phil Lynott
Written and performed by Miles Mlambo
Directed by Chris Gates
Phil Lynott [and you’ll remember how to pronounce it] was a 60s and 70s rock icon, lead singer of Thin Lizzy, and it was clear the audience knew this, going by the ‘oooh YES’ murmurs every so often and one audience member’s later ‘I remember it ALL’.
The play hit Edinburgh with some impact this August, with reviewers praising the research, writing, direction and performance, and it’s heading to London soon, stopping off in Brighton for one day only.
The resemblance is terrific – Mlambo’s the perfect relaxed, rangy Lynott, including the husky resonant Irish drawl.
It’s presented as a beer-swigging storytelling chat to us, taking us through his own origin story with the evocative tale of how Mum Philomena met the Duke, his towering, glamorous stranger of a father. It touches on the dreary horror of the fate of young pregnant girls – sent to ‘homes’, set to menial punishment tasks, their babies taken away. But she was different, a fighter who made her own life and huge sacrifices for Phil. Mlambo’s writing and performance shows us her flawed, driven son, punching back and diving in, grabbing every opportunity life flung his way.
We glimpse the ingredients that made him; the visceral impact of Irish legend and myth firing the imagination of the young outsider boy living with casual racism and quick violence in Ireland and England, snapshots of bohemian life and its characters in the 60s, the music, drink and drugs, and history repeating itself with the smitten Phil fathering a lost child he never knew.
Chris Gates’ direction spins an engaging physicality and gripping shifts in pace and mood. Tech support with ironic lounge glitterball, coloured lighting moods and musical moments is neatly delivered, and the whole is funny, romantic, sometimes violent and always engaging.
It’s entertaining stuff and you’re with him all the way. It ends enticingly with another door opening – and the burning question ‘what happens next??’ Hopefully Mlambo will revisit this true tale and give us another instalment in the life of Phyl Lynott.