Nice and reasonably entertaining – would you expect anything less from Michael Palin?
In town to promote his third diary book, the highly likeable comedian’s solo show at the King’s was a game of two halves: the first, a slideshow retrospective of his many TV-travel jaunts across the world; the second, a comedy bio that weighs heavily on his upbringing and time spent with comedy legends Monty Python.
With 25 years’ worth of globe-trotting to reflect upon, Palin quickly gets to the essence of what travelling is all about: interacting with people you normally wouldn’t get the chance to, in situations you could rarely imagine.
From desert seas to mountain vistas, from Third World countries to places you didn’t even know existed, the 71-year-old’s cosy commentary helps take you there without ever having to leave the comfort of your seat.
We see Palin drinking tea on top of a moving train through North Africa; pictures of people playing snooker under a ravine notorious for avalanches; examples of a “happy” graveyard that features colourful depictions of the deceased’s working life – and grisly death – on its tombstones.
We learn how Palin managed to cover virtually every square inch of the globe, and yet he never really explains if it changed his worldly view.
By contrast, the second half gives over to Palin’s early comedy life: listening to The Goons on the radio as a child, teenage summer romance, breaking into comedy while studying at Oxford.
He reads an entertaining piece about Graham Chapman’s drunken account of visiting Los Angeles.
Later, he recounts a dropped scene from Life Of Brian where they try to “book” The Last Supper as if reserving a table at a restaurant.
Then there’s the funny lampooning of Enid Blyton – a tale about The Famous Five and the Fall of Roman Imperialism.
All very pleasant, but nothing really new.
Star rating: ****