REVIEW: Michael Palin Travelling to Work – Theatre Royal, Glasgow

To celebrate the publication of his third volume of diaries, Travelling To Work, Michael Palin arrives in Glasgow with a new two-part stage show, looking back at twenty-five years of exploring the world and nearly fifty years in the public eye.

Part book tour, part ‘audience with…’ Travelling to Work is an affable and amusing evening with arguably one of the UK’s most beloved personalities. The first half of the evening, a whistle-stop tour of the globe following Palin’s TV travels, comprises a presentation of photographs with commentary and showcases Palin’s astonishing ability to absorb and deliver facts and figures about each of the multitudinous places he’s visited. Depressingly pointing out along the way that many of the places either no longer exist (bombed into oblivion, flooded under a dam, to name a few) or are in no-go zones. As affable and enjoyable as it all is you can’t help feeling a serious case of life envy.

The second half explores Palin’s childhood and his path to fame from the Edinburgh Fringe to Python and beyond. Highlights include readings from Graham Chapman’s autobiography and Palin’s own 1974 book Bert Fegg’s Nasty Book for Boys and Girls and revelations such as the one about author Iain Banks (then a student at Stirling University) being one of the extras in The Holy Grail.

There’s nothing new here and those looking for ‘warts and all’ revelations will be disappointed. As affable, amusing and entertaining as the man himself, it all adds up to a thoroughly enjoyable way to spend an evening at the theatre.