Rhys and Ianto’s Excellent Barbecue is certainly a contender for the Big Finish story with the best title this year. As that title implies, things get a little funky with time in this Torchwood adventure. Rhys and Ianto are trapped in a time bubble just before a lads’ night that Rhys has been really looking forward to (and that Ianto was definitely not invited to).

Rhys and Ianto did not have much screen time together on the televised show; so it’s only fair that they get a chance to connect in this monthly Torchwood adventure. However, they are also two characters without much in common and their connection definitely isn’t immediate. They both know they should be putting effort in to enjoy each other’s company but it’s clear they really don’t at the beginning. Each aspect of one’s personality just seems totally at odds with the other. The awkward way they interact for the first portion of the story does give it a very amusing start with plenty of laughs. Let’s just say Rhys is not particularly enthused by Ianto’s backpack full of ‘activities’ for the boys.

Rhys and Ianto’s Excellent Barbecue by Tim Foley

The awkward lads routine quickly veers the story into the direction of toxic masculinity and particularly how it can affect relationships between men. Not only does it make it harder for Rhys and Ianto to connect, but it has also built barriers between Rhys and his other friends. The story forces Rhys to acknowledge those barriers by trapping him inside a literal barrier (made of time) with a man he only barely knows. The idea is that sometimes it’s easier to be honest and open when the person you’re with isn’t particularly close to you. It’s great to get a look inside Rhys’s head and his emotions and his default ways of dealing with stress.

Where the story really shines, and the thing that makes it something particularly special to me, is when it gets to the reason Rhys is so on edge and that’s grief. It was never really about the barbecue. Tim Foley has written a story that shows an understanding of the different ways that grief can affect people. It’s different for everyone and that makes many wonder if they are even grieving properly. Are they taking too long? Not long enough? Is talking worse or better? Is it like this for everyone? It was really great to have a character clearly processing those different questions and more not only for himself but considering his friends as well. Rhys had to put aside a lot of preconceived ideas of masculinity and face a lot of very realistic fear to move forward and it’s a journey I think many people can relate to.

Overall

The barbecue got off to a strange start but was very excellent by the end. This story has a beautiful depiction of grief and how it can make people think. Kai Owen gives a fantastic performance and the audience is shown much greater depths of the character of Rhys. Opposite him is of course Gareth David-Lloyd who is typically wonderful as Ianto. There’s an important message to be honest with yourself and the people you love about how you are feeling. The pairing of Ianto and Rhys was a strong choice that gives opportunity for both humour and heart. Also, as a bonus, Tim Foley waxes poetic about guinea pigs during the interview at the end so don’t skip it when the story ends and listen all the way through.

Torchwood: Rhys and Ianto's Excellent Barbecue. Cover by Lee Binding. (c) Big Finish Productions Ianto Jones Rhys Williams Gareth David-Lloyd Kai Owen
Torchwood: Rhys and Ianto’s Excellent Barbecue. Cover Art by Lee Binding. (c) Big Finish Productions

Synopsis

This title was released in November 2020. It will be exclusively available to buy from the Big Finish website until January 31st 2021, and on general sale after this date.

Rhys is planning a lads’ night in. Barbie in the back yard, few tins, mates and bants. But the only person who turns up is Ianto – who hasn’t been invited. Hell is other people, especially when they’ve brought board games.

Something goes wrong. The two of them could be trapped together for eternity at a barbecue where the sausages never cook, and worse, the brewskis remain forever out of reach.

Cast

  • Gareth David-Llloyd (Ianto Jones)
  • Kai Owens (Rhys Williams)
  • Youssef Kerkour (Badger)

Credits

  • Senior Producer: David Richardson
  • Additional themes by Ben Foster
  • Cover Art by Lee Binding
  • Director: Scott Handcock
  • Executive Producer: Jason Haigh-Ellery & Nicholas Briggs
  • Music: Blair Mowat
  • Producer: James Goss
  • Script Editor: James Goss
  • Sound Design: Joe Meiners
  • Written by Tim Foley
  • Theme Music by Murray Gold

Torchwood: Rhys and Ianto’s Excellent Barbecue is available now from the Big Finish website. The title is priced at £10.99 on CD and £8.99 to download. The Big Finish App, available for free on Apple and Android devices, makes listening even easier.

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