The Trip to Greece
Rob Brydon, Steve Coogan, Cordelia Bugeja
…diehard fans will get something out of this repast.
“Where shall we go next?” “Oh, Greece is nice this time of year”. “Yes, let’s go there.” Is this the conversation that pertains in the planning meetings for Michael Winterbottom’s now extensive series starring two comedians going on a trip?
Whatever prompts their choices or governs their schedule (and of course they won’t be flying anywhere for the foreseeable future), this series has gathered some loyal fans.
Once again, we have Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon playing themselves and bantering and bumbling along in enviable locations. They have the grace not to play themselves as too perfect, but this too is becoming part of the shtick. Steve is a bit vain and self-aggrandising (but he has shown a broader range as an actor and screen writer in real life than Brydon), but prone to flirting and taking offence at imagined slights. Rob is more the family man; more stable perhaps, and his job is to gently needle his friend. This time there is a major drama for one of them but somehow the gravity of this can’t be treated too head on for fear of spoiling the whole concoction.
Both of the performers are killer mimics, of course, and the greatest pleasures here, as in the others, is when they riff on a theme or a celebrity and do whole conversations in character. Some of the voices they adopt would be better known to English audiences perhaps (Brydon’s version of playwright Alan Bennett is eerily perfect) but the ideas of the impromptu sketches are always funny in their own terms.
This time, there is a running gag that they are following in Odysseus’s footsteps and so there is room to do a kind of Horrible Histories piss take on mythical heroes’ travails. But this never really had much legs. Also, usually there is more concentration upon the food which is traditionally a mix of gourmet restaurants and perfect local eateries. This time, we scarcely catch the waiter’s description of the little plated marvels. An obligatory foreign waitress provides some opportunities for self-conscious flirtation.
It doesn’t seem to matter in one way, as it was never really about the food any more than it was about the views or the travel details. Then what IS it about? Well, that is both the mystery and the problem. The chemistry between them made it easy watching, and the banter often contained absolute gems. They have still got some of that, of course, and diehard fans will get something out of this repast.