Going on the title and the poster alone, I wasn’t sold. Going on blind dates is insane enough, let alone watching a show about them, surely? But when a chum kindly invited me along, I did a bit of reading round, and was intrigued. Blind Date is a show conceived by comedian/actress Rebecca Northan, which revolves around the structure of a blind date played out in front of a voracious audience. The difference? The blind date is plucked from the audience, minutes before the show starts.
Improv is a sticky game, to mix my metaphors. By its very nature, it can’t be predicted, nailed down, or neatly defined. At uni, I came across the work of a theatre group called Improbable, who frequently improvised sections of their shows around the life stories of audience members. That was one thing, but this show was going to rely hugely on the charm and watchability of the poor chap chosen to be the male lead for the night.
So let’s backtrack a minute. As the lights come up on the stage, we meet Mimi (Northan) for the first time, as she sips nervously at her red wine, waiting for a date who never turns up. It’s a drizzly Wednesday evening with a typical London crowd, and we’re watching a woman with a ‘joke’ red nose perched ludicrously on her face. No one is sure what to expect, but what we do know is that we’re going to make her work hard for this.
Thing is, you fall for Mimi almost straight away. Northan’s been touring this show for years, and you can tell. It’s a masterclass in improv and how to handle a rather nervous member of the audience who is desperate to impress the 200 people watching him…And that was where the problem came. Northan was perfect, delightful, and hilarious. Her date, plucked from the cosy embrace of the plush velvet seats, was not. In fact, he was downright irritating, slightly drunk, very sweary, and occasionally offensive. His date, in the audience, was also very much ‘over-refreshed’ and vocal….
It was a unique experience, hugely entertaining, quite wince-inducing at times, and all in all was quite like a real first date! Northan is a tremendous talent and it’s worth seeing it just for her. The concept is a thrilling one, and the ‘anything could happen’ atmosphere is electrifying. Go, see, be entertained, be horrified, be charmed. Blind Date runs at the Charing Cross Theatre until the 29th June.