Review: The Man Called Monkhouse

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The Man Called Monkhouse

Assembly Hall (Venue 35)

There’s no doubt Bob Monkhouse was a complex man.

A talented writer, a hard-working stand-up and successful game show host, he didn’t really get the plaudits is career deserved until his later years.

This one-man show looks at the man behind the slick one-line gags and strange ticks and expressions.

Simon Cartwright’s arrival as Monkhouse is startling - he appears out of the darkness, and his uncanny likeness takes your breath away.

The story is set in 1995 as Monkhouse reels from the theft of his prized joke books, and then receives news his old writing partner, Dennis Goodwin has died, and he has to pen a few words for a eulogy. It’s an opportunity to reflect on his life and career.

The jokes are delivered with Monkhouse’s precision timing - every gesture and facial expression taking you back to the comedian’s glory days.

Off-stage we hear the pain he suffered at the theft, and also of an appalling taboloid story which sought to portray him in a negative light over his son’s wedding, but I’m not sure we got the full picture of the man behind the gags.

The off-stage story needs to be fleshed out - with only an hour, I suspect time is very much against the writer, so it’d be interesting to see how this could developed because Cartwright as Monkhouse is quite stunning.