Rhys and Ianto’s Excellent Barbecue is latest Torchwood audio drama and features another odd couple pairing. Rhys Williams and Ianto Jones had few interactions on-screen and the pair could not be further apart; the former is an earthy no-nonsense lorry driver and long-suffering husband to Gwen Cooper, the latter Torchwood’s suit-wearing coffee boy, keeper of tragic secrets and sometime lover of Captain Jack Harkness.
When Rhys (Kai Owen) invites his mates around, he hopes for a free-flowing evening of beers, bangers and banter. He does not plan for Ianto (Gareth David-Lloyd) to pitch up with a chardonnay and a croquet set. Differing ideas of what constitutes a good time soon clash, especially when it transpires that Ianto is the only guest.
In these lockdown times, the threat here is nightmare fuel. Rhys and Ianto are trapped in shrinking bubble, with food that will not cook and no hope of rescue! As they work to escape their predicament, it forces some honesty and breaks down a number of preconceptions.
A Bogus Journey?
Both Kai Owen and Gareth David-Lloyd know these characters well and they make a pleasing, if unusual combination. Rhys acts as the everyman, while Ianto assumes the role of the experienced Torchwood agent, sort of. With only Youssef Kerkour joining the regulars as the delightfully named “Badger”, this is a relatively small-scale affair. However, despite the bonkers title, we assume a nod to Bill & Ted, there is a story with a serious message at its heart. For the sake of spoilers, we will tiptoe around it; suffice to say it deals with themes of grief and male friendships, plus the conventions of laddish culture too.
Writer Tim Foley has form as one of Big Finish’s more experimental writers, having written stories like Dissected and Night of the Fendahl. He loves playing with different perspectives and this story is no different, utterly breaking our heart with a phone call.
To be fair, Tim Foley has form with unusual titles too: he was responsible for ‘Tropical Beach Sounds and Other Relaxing Seascapes #4’ and is the creator of the wonderfully bizarre podcast drama the ‘North West Footwear Database’, which we highly recommend!
Insightful, affecting and very funny, this is another great addition to the Torchwood range.