Starting his show in the guise of a flamboyant 90's German discotheque character in short shorts and sunglasses (that plays no further part in the show), Charlie Partridge sets the tone of this uplifting globe-trotting hour of comedic storytelling – naturally complemented with a newfound love of beatboxing.
The story covers Partridge's own Hollywood-style pursuit of the girl that got away. Told in an engaging and wry style, with a heady mix of music, recurring jokes about his grasp of world politics, and tent puns, this is a show that tackles a host of movie clichés and twists them into an original piece full of personal and relatable details with surreal elements.
Charlie comes across as a very genuine and self-deprecating performer, trying to amble his way through life by any means. He'll try his hand at anything, from bingo-calling to ship-repair, but he still feels like he doesn't take risks. With a string of big-brand voiceovers behind him, but a lack of fulfilment, he indulges himself in spontaneity by trying to win over his not-quite girlfriend who has moved to the other side of the world. It is a strangely familiar jet-setting arc, which plays out in many a rom-com, and Partridge plays up to this formulaic idea to a tee.
Accompanying the piece is Partridge's trippy, soul-searching soundtrack, which he produces live courtesy of his beatboxing-skills and assortment of audio machinery laid out on an ironing board. That Charlie claims to have only recently picked up this skill through hours of trial and error “in his kitchen” makes it all the more impressive. And it adds a really nice touch to flesh out the cinematic soundscape and place us in the moment – whether on a disappointingly lucid drug-trip or experiencing the worst of cultural appropriation at a posh boutique festival.
We follow our protagonist from a shed on a faceless Midlands high street, handing out promotional tubes of crisps, to an inexplicably-placed Chinese restaurant by a lighthouse in Holland – as Charlie searches for the answers that can bring about his romantic A-list movie ending. Packed with laughs and great energy throughout, you can't help but root for the hero here, even when he lambasts the audience for supporting a man pursuing a woman without much in the way of consent.
And after hilarious encounters with awakened Californian perverts and an uncomfortably vivid experience at a mansion orgy, Partridge lulls the audience into a false sense of pathos and expectation before hitting us with a clever, surprise ending. It befits the notion that reality, in this case, is stranger than fiction.