Blind Date, Sarah Northan.
Charing Cross Theatre
May 30th 2013
I used to love dating shows. Blind Date was my favourite TV dating programme. I watched it, glued to the television every Saturday evening from 1991 to approximately 1996. Unfortunately this new play by Sarah Northan has nothing in common with Cilla Black except for having the same title.
In fact it’s stretching things to call this a play, since the blind date of the title doesn’t turn up, and Mimi chooses a likely candidate from the audience (in actual fact this person has been carefully selected beforehand). That’s one of many drawbacks to a format like this. For it to be successful, the play depends very much on the man chosen to be her date. He needs to be charismatic, confident, with a voice strong enough to be heard through the audience. On the opening night, Mimi chose the improbably named Barty as her replacement date for the evening. He gamely went along with all of her wild ideas, whilst his real – life girlfriend kept watch in the audience. She was given the option of being able to call ‘bullshit’ whenever Barty was telling a lie, a privilege which she never took advantage. She also had the chance to call timeout, meaning that Barty and Mimi would then step out of the date scenario into a corner of the stage.
Mimi came out with a few good one-liners. When fashion designer Barty told her he created ‘interactive windows’ her response was “That would be a door no?” There were jokes about his height (he was fully grown as a 12 year old). Later, a scene change took the play to the bedroom, the conclusion of the date. She was briefly vulnerable, revealing that she used to be called budgerigar eyes by her school mates. It was a shame the play didn’t go further down this road, sharing the many anxieties andhang-ups men and women feel about themselves. It was all very frothy, with some moments of pure farce, such as an incident where she was caught driving erratically by police and hides her wineglass between her legs.
Sarah Northan is a talented comedienne, delivering her lines with a heavy French accent, and wearing a red nose to look like a clown. She did physical comedy too, driving along to Gnarls Barkley’s Crazy and giving birth. It would be worth seeing more than once to see if Mimi can carry this off with a less willing participant and one with less to say.