Simon Cartwright delivered an uncannily accurate impersonation in The Man Called Monkhouse, capturing the late comedian’s voice, mannerisms, style and even his looks.
He also told many of Bob’s best gags with perfect timing.
The problem was we’d heard them all before, and this short one-hour show revealed nothing new about Bob’s private life. The play takes place in Monkhouse’s study in 1995, with him twice asking the police on the phone if his stolen joke books have been found. This leads Bob to reflect sadly how his slick performances caused him to be labelled smarmy instead of earning the acclaim his talent deserved.
The play refers to the death of Monkhouse’s writing partner Dennis Goodwin, the lack of affection shown to him by his mother, and how the Press misreported his concern for his disabled son Gary. A rare ‘light’ anecdote was an affair with Diana Dors, which resulted in Bob being threatened by her irate husband! Unfortunately, Alex Lowe’s often witty script does not include any moments of real drama for director Bob Golding to exploit.
But Cartwright’s portrayal, complete with eyebrow-raising and wink, is so good you almost think the great comedian has been brought back to life.
It was a pity that so few turned up for the Friday performance. By Tony Flood.