EdFringe 2018 Review: John Partridge: Stripped

John Partridge: Stripped
Rating: ★★★

Venue: Assembly Checkpoint

Those thinking that the ‘Stripped’ part of John Partridge’s current fringe endeavour, John Partridge: Stripped may allude to the actor and musical theatre star’s muscular physique, may not find what they are looking for. Instead Partridge delivers a cathartic stripping of the soul sometimes to an uncomfortable degree in this production which interweaves songs with the actor’s musings and personal responses to death, love and sobriety.

In a bold move Partridge showcases his full vulnerability – exploring sad anecdotes about losing his father, the loss of his mother to Alzheimer’s disease, and his three hundred days of sobriety. The performer opens-up on stage with tears and a real heartfelt conscience and spirit behind the show which he notes is cheaper than therapy. The cathartic emotional cleansing evident in watching Partridge perform this number is a powerful, albeit often uncomfortable viewing experience.

This sombre tone courses through most of the show – reflective in Partridge’s musical choices. Opening with Gotye’s Somebody That I Used to Know and Hedwig and the Angry Itch’s Wig in a Box. Partridge is backed and shares the stage with Emma Lindars whose powerful voice blends well with Partridge’s West End musical vocal prowess. The tone is lifted with covers of Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic (now He) which provides some upbeat plaudits as Partridge pays tribute to his husband. A brief tap interlude which the performer paired with an anecdote about he and his father’s shared bond over MGM musicals impresses as a showcase for the talents we do not always see. However, Partridge’s shining musical moment is his cover of David Bowie’s hidden gem, Bring Me the Disco King, which is an atmospheric treat.

A screen behind Lindars and Partridge flashes key words relevant to the star: ‘Faster. Taller. Wiser’ etc. as he reflects on his strengths and setbacks, whilst family photos flash up during musical numbers which reinforce how personal a show this is to Partridge.

Often uncomfortably raw, John Partridge: Stripped is an intense glimpse into the titular performer’s soul. In this cathartic release for Partridge, he bares his emotions through monologue and impressive vocal performance which encapsulates his talents well.

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