We think back on, say, Tommy Cooper or Eric Morecambe with affection. Mention Bob Monkhouse and the word that comes into most people’s minds is “smarmy”. Neither an alcoholic nor a drug addict, not suffering from depression or deprivation and only a womaniser in a very low-key way, Monkhouse was an ordinary, middle class guy, rather like a bank manager who told jokes. This ordinariness is Alex Lowe’s biggest problem in bringing his play to life, particularly as most of the gags now seem very dated. The framework is Monkhouse writing a speech for an event to mark the 20th anniversary of the death of his one-time comedy partner, Dennis Goodwin, giving him the opportunity to reflect on his earlier career. This show’s greatest asset is an uncanny performance by Simon Cartwright; it only takes a few seconds to accept that this is the real Monkhouse standing there. He shows us a devoted family man, a consummate professional who thought in jokes and then wrote them all down and filed them. Interesting and mildly amusing.
Performance date: 20 August 2015