Charing Cross Theatre
Performance date: 26 June 2013
The poor guy. All he had wanted was to mollify his girlfriend by going to date night at the theatre, a show clearly signposted as such being entitled Blind Date. But no. Now he was on stage. He was the entertainment! He giggled nervously and squinted around the room. Yes, there were still 200 people looking back at him. He took another gulp of his wine and returned his focus to the woman wearing a red nose and smiling flirtatiously at him across the little cafe table… how was this going to end?
Blind Date, a show devised by Rebecca Northan, is an improvised piece based around the inherently awkward and theatrical test of character that is a blind date. Each night, Mimi, played at this performance by Renee Amber chooses a different victim, I mean, date, from the audience, brings him up on stage and goes through the (mostly completely normal) motions of a date. She asked this taciturn but lovely man about his career – convincing him of how “cool” a job it is being an air-conditioning technician (boom boom), feigned a deep interest in football, probed out about his family and childhood friends and peppered her responses with encouragement all the way. Somehow, despite being on stage under lights, it all felt deeply realistic.
Poor Danny the date, attending the show with his girlfriend, his mother and his girlfriend’s mother, was given an unlimited amount of “time outs” to call if he started getting uncomfortable with where the show was going. His girlfriend Kat who happened to be sitting directly in front of us, was also given one “time-out” to use judiciously. The moment for it came when Mimi leaned in for a kiss, after she had got Danny back to her place. “Time out!” Kat bellowed from across the room. The audience laughed knowingly, but far from preventing any lip-locking, Kat then proceeded to shout instructions to Danny to make sure the kiss was a good one.
The risk and excitement of a show like this is it changes every night. The choice of date will have a huge impact on the “choose your own adventure” journey that the audience goes on. But the scenario itself of a blind date has such a soap opera of material that it would be hard for it to be boring. It relies heavily on a dynamic and quick-thinking lead, and Amber was beguiling as Mimi, weaving in little details of information she gleaned about Danny’s life throughout the show. On the night I saw it, the results were extremely entertaining. Danny’s true nature as a genuinely nice guy shone through and the audience went away with a unique, unrepeatable experience.
The show is great fun, but if you are male and squeamish about being hauled up on stage, pretend you don’t understand English when the guys in bunny ears try to chat to you while you are queuing to go in…