Skip to main content

Review of The Man Called Monkhouse at Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton

Last November I had the eerie experience of seeing Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise resurrected before my eyes in the excellent Eric And Little Ern (review here). The Man Called Monkhouse is an even more scary and uncanny experience, as despite the admittedly superb recreation of Morecambe and Wise, Simon Cartwright truly is as close to the legend that is Bob Monkhouse as you could hope. The mannerisms, the voice, the perfect delivery of the jokes, it is all there. Standing before you at the start of the play finishing of his routine, Monkhouse is alive and well on the stage.

The play itself sits slightly less successfully than the aforementioned Eric And Little Ern, it is a slightly lighter prospect. It does however in its brief run time of roughly an hour provide an insight into the troubled and very much, as used in the play, marmite performer. The play revolves around the time of the well publicised stolen joke books and the twentieth anniversary of the death of his writing partner Denis Goodwin. Our created play involves Monkhouse dealing with a less than enthusiastic police officer as well as trying to write a eulogy for Denis.

So on the nicely designed set by Alex Marker constituting of Monkhouse's study, the play weaves Monkhouses back catalogue of jokes into this collection of events. It works perfectly well, if a little episodically. The best part actually comes later in the play when dealing with his history with the press and his son, "You can always tell when a journalist is lying... their lips move." This period provides an emotional punch like no other part and puts into fine context the cruel nature that sadly our press has.

For me, Bob Monkhouse was one of the greatest and was a staple diet for me growing up in the eighties and The Man Called Monkhouse provided some tingling moments. The hair on my neck literally stood on end when I heard the tune for Bob Says Opportunity Knocks again after so long.


For those split seconds I was ten again and in a very different world. This is indeed the magic of these types of shows, like Eric And Little Ern. Providing fond memories and joy, and perhaps to better times?

The Man Called Monkhouse may be a little light on content in places and is perhaps also too short as you do feel when leaving you wanted more. However it wields a truly exceptional performance from Simon Cartwright and for any fan of Bob is a must see.

My survey says: ««««


Performance viewed: Tuesday 29th September, 2015 at the Royal & Derngate (Royal).

The Man Called Monkhouse is currently on tour, for details of venues can be found at their website at http://monkhouseplay.com/

For further details about the Royal & Derngate visit their website at http://www.royalandderngate.co.uk/


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Review of Woman In Mind by Masque Theatre at The Playhouse Theatre, Northampton

I like Alan Ayckbourn, I may only have seen a few of his vast array of plays previously, but all have been a delight, often crazy yes, but constantly funny, and especially in the second act spiralling often into just on the very edge of believable nonsense. With Woman In Mind, acknowledged by many as one of his finest works, my own personal jury is very much out on whether I liked it or not.
What was very good, mostly, however, were the performances, most especially the two that we are introduced to at the very beginning. The prostrate Susan (Nicola Osborne), with sinisterly lurking rake alongside her, and the bag struggling doctor, Bill (John Myhill).
Nicola Osborne has the unenviable task in this play of never leaving the stage, a feat in itself. Add to this the constant weaving of the character's world (more on this later), and you have a role featuring some significant challenge, one that Osborne ably surmounts. I once described Osborne as a "safe pair of hands" in …

Press launch of Sting's The Last Ship at Errol Flynn Filmhouse, Northampton

On Friday 16th February 2018, I attended the official press launch of The Last Ship. In attendance were the writer of the show, Sting, and cast members for the 2018 UK tour Richard Fleeshman, Charlie Hardwick and Joe McGann, with musical support from Rob Mathes.

During the event, opened entertainingly by producer Karl Sydow, Sting and the cast members performed seven of the songs from the show: The Last Ship (Sting), Dead Man's Boots (Sting and Fleeshman), Sail Away (Hardwick), The Night the Pugilist Learned to Dance (Fleeshman), What Say You Meg? (Fleeshman) and What Have You Got? (Sting and cast).

Each of these songs showed us a great background to the evocative tale that The Last Ship tells, of a community under attack as its crucial shipbuilding industry begins to fail. The performers and Sting himself delivered the songs with huge passion, despite, as Sting himself commented, the earnestness of the hour, with the event beginning at 10 am.

The Last Ship was initially inspired …

Review of Cilla - The Musical at Royal & Derngate (Derngate), Northampton

I have to start with a confession dear reader, what I know about Cilla Black can pretty much be written on the back of the Derngate ticket that I clutched on entering the theatre (and that allows for the advert on the back). I have heard a couple of her tunes of course (more than once) and confess, once again, that I generally didn't like what I heard. I think it's clear that with her natural raw form and voice, "a diamond in the rough" as Brian Epstein, her eventual manager describes her, she a performer that you either love or generally, not hate as such, but perhaps just dislike. I fall in the latter. Curiously as I a forty-year-old, I also don't even fall into the Cilla of hit television either, being a BBC viewing family, I never saw her on TV much when I was growing up.

So, coming almost totally fresh to the world of Cilla, it was a little comforting that for the first act, much of the world of Cilla - The Musical revolves not just around star building Cil…