Blind Date is an exploration of the modern dating world, deeply moving and constantly funny. It begins with Andrew and Angela filling out online dating profiles in their separate homes, although they appear on stage side by side and go through the form in sync, allowing us to compare and contrast their reactions to the questions on the website: both are deeply insecure, and exaggerate everything from their hairstyles to their body shapes to their jobs. Having matched on the website, we see them both prepare for the date in an outlandish dance scene, performed to ‘The Great Pretender’, which removes any doubts we may have had about this play being a comedy. Armed with wigs, 6-inch heels and artfully stuffed clothing, our couple head out on their blind date.
Predictably, they are both disappointed with each other’s disappearance, but once they start to talk they realise how much they have in common – however, once the date is over, it is clear that there is no physical attraction on either side. As they sit side by side on stage, in their separate houses, both right back where they started, there is a real poignancy to the sense of despair they both clearly feel. This poignancy is sadly undercut somewhat by the not too subtle soundtrack of ‘All By Myself’ – this production uses lots of popular music to provide us with a sense of characters’ emotions without adding awkward dialogue, but sometimes, as in this scene, it comes across clumsy or even farcical.
Andrew and Angela both neglect to contact one another after this date, but coincidentally bump into one another over the course of a year or so. As the play continues, we follow them through different relationships, heartbreaks, surprises, and so on, and see how their relationship with one another is affected. At multiple points, we are shown how disappointment or even heartbreak could have been avoided if they had only been more honest with themselves or one another – this is a play which highlights the importance of honesty and communication, showing us the worst possible outcomes while remaining resolutely hopeful for the future. As Andrew and Angela’s relationships, as well as those of their friends and neighbours, break down, these values of openness and honesty, as well as the ability to prioritise an emotional connection above a physical one, are consistently reinforced.
Although some of the more serious issues addressed by the play could have done with being explored further, rather than being undercut by comedy which at times felt superfluous, overall this was a play which mixed the two well. The important issues that came up – such as pregnancy and infertility, marriage and divorce, sexual compatibility – were addressed with humour, allowing the audience to think about these subjects without making the play too serious or solemn. The acting was excellent throughout: all the actors had a great sense of comic timing, especially Travis, and played off one another well. Although the set design was extremely minimal, it worked well, allowing the audience to focus on the characters and their exchanges without distractions. This production could maybe do with exploring complex issues further, instead of going for cheap laughs at every opportunity, but was overall a good attempt to investigate the pitfalls of modern dating, as well as the age-old question of soulmates.
- By Dave Simpson
- Directed by Alice Bartlett
- Cast: Will Travis, Susan Mcardle, Verity May-Henry and Drew Cain
- Jermyn Street Theatre, London
- Until 31st January 2015
- Review by Nicola Watkinson
- 27 January 2015