Bob Monkhouse was a complicated and enigmatic man. To some he was nothing more than a tanned gameshow host; to others he was a master joke writer.
A sharp script backed up by a brilliant performance.
Simon Cartwright starts the show with some cracking one liners from Monkhouse’s career - it’s a great way to ease the audience in. His impersonation of Monkhouse is utterly amazing, channeling his voice and mannerisms perfectly. Those in the back row might easily be fooled into thinking the man has risen from the grave.
The rest of the show takes place over one night in Monkhouse’s office as he thinks back on his life and career. Set just after his notebooks of jokes were famously stolen, this helps tease out his malicious nature without beating you over the head with it. The set has lots of nice touches for the eagle-eyed fan and does well to give you a sense of time and space.
Early on he receives a message asking if he would like to speak at the twentieth anniversary of his former writing partner Denis Goodwin’s death. It’s a fairly good reason for Monkhouse to discuss his memories out loud. These range from anecdotes to tall tales and bits of old routines. You get a fairly comprehensive overview of a fifty-year career.
The script does well to give an even-handed overview; it clearly comes from a place of love, but doesn’t hide some of the less palatable aspects of Monkhouse. There are moment of tension and drama but are often followed up by a slew of gags.
This show is brilliant whether you loved or loathed Monkhouse, or even if you don’t know who he is. It’s a sharp script backed up by a brilliant performance.