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Review of Blind Date at Jermyn Street Theatre

Blind DateDating has never been particularly easy. Just meeting someone is hard enough. In the good old days you used to rely on either on well-meaning family or friends setting you up with someone who “would be just perfect for you” or a chance meeting at work/social situation. Nowadays, thanks to the Internet finding a date is so much simpler isn’t it? Well the truth, as revealed in Dave Simpson’s “Blind Date” at the Jermyn Street Theatre, is that while the mechanics are simpler, the actual process is still as complicated and prone to misfortune as ever.

Andrew (Will Travers) and Angela (Susan Mcardle) are both single and looking for someone that fits their ideal of a perfect partner. Having been persuaded by their best friends to enter the 21st century we join the two of them in their respective homes plunging into the horror of setting up a profile on an online dating website. Anyone that has ever sat there over the keyboard looking to Match.com, Plenty-of-Fish, Christian Mingles, etc will really empathise with Andrew and Angela as they agonise how much they need to ‘stretch the truth’ in describing themselves. Simple things like “what is your occupation?” become a major dilemma – is one an alcohol consumption consultant or a barman? And when it comes to describing your body, well at one point does a six pack become a catering pack? Eventually however, they complete their profiles and send them out into the ether. Now comes the worst part of all with online dating sites – waiting for someone to notice your profile, read it and then finally send you a message. If you haven’t done it, then the pain of logging in and seeing no contact from anyone is a bit like having your head repeatedly bashed against a brick wall. OK, maybe it’s not that bad but is can be pretty soul destroying. However, that’s all forgotten when contact is made and in the case of Andrew and Angela, they see each other’s “profiles” and arrange to meet up for that first – and most terrifying – blind date.

The first date, from watching the two of them prepare through the meeting and on to the end is so sweet and perfectly crafted, I’m sure virtually every member of the audience was secretly screaming inside that “you two are perfect for each other”. Of course, if they had realised this straight away it would have been a much less funny and much shorter show as various elements conspired to interrupt the course of true love between the two of them. Their own social awkwardness, lack of experience – Richard Branson has a lot to answer for – and shyness play a factor but so do various people they met along the way (all played beautifully by Verity-May Henry and Drew Cain). Do Andrew and Angela get the happy ending that everyone wants them to have? Oh I would love to tell you, but in the words of Dr Who “spoilers”.

Beautifully written, “Blind Date” really breaks out the highs and lows of dating in the 21st century and how, no matter how old you are, it never gets any easier. The opening scene of profile completion will really strike a chord with anyone that has ever taken the plunge and gone online to find Mr/Mrs Right. Will and Susan are a great paring and you will certainly root for them to succeed as they are so perfect for each other. The two actors, on stage virtually the whole time, have wonderful comic timing and a real chemistry in their performance. Verity and Drew between them play 9 other characters as diverse as a rather plummy company director to waiting staff in an Italian restaurant. Alice Bartlett’s direction is tight and keeps the story moving beautifully. I loved the incidental music between scenes, and my personal favourite use of music was at the Registry Office with U2’s “Without You” subtly playing behind the action. This paled into insignificance though thanks to the nod back to my youth with kid’s TV show “Rainbow” and the wonderful Zippy and George.

Overall, an entertaining show with some wonderful laugh out loud moments that, if nothing else, made me realise its not just me eating that ready meal for one dreaming of romance, love and all those mushy things. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I just want to see if anyone has viewed my profile recently.

4 stars

Review by Terry Eastham

Blind Date explores the possibilities and the pitfalls of internet dating through the story of two reluctant singletons, who exaggerate their own desirability in order to attract their perfect partner. The play began life at JB Shorts, Manchester’s celebrated biannual festival of 15-minute-plays by top television writers. After an overwhelming response from audiences, a decision was made to extend the premise of Blind Date into a full-length production.

Writer Dave Simpson is no stranger to popular success, having spent five years writing for Emmerdale. Several of his hit plays – including Girls’ Night Out and The Naked Truth – have toured nationally to sell-out audiences and he currently has a musical in development with producer Bill Kenwright.

This is Dave’s 4th collaboration with director Alice Bartlett, who has also worked extensively with John Godber at Hull Truck. Alice describes Blind Date as “a story about looking for love, which is something everyone can relate to. It’s very funny in places, moving in others, but also quite dark at times. The central characters – who are portrayed brilliantly by our actors – have really struck a chord with audiences in the North West.”

Blind Date features Will Travis, Coronation Street’s Neil Beckett and previously regular Dick Lampard in Where The Heart Is. Alongside some dramatic recent storylines on the cobbles, Will has just finished filming This Is England ’90 in which he returns as Mr Squires.

Will is joined in Blind Date by his on and off-stage partner, Susan Mcardle. Susan will also be familiar to Coronation Street fans as Gail Platt’s former cell-mate, Lyn Fulwood. She spent 3 years as Linda in the West End and touring production of Blood Brothers and is soon to be seen in the BBC’s much-anticipated adaption of Jacqueline Wilson’s Hetty Feather.

Experienced actors Drew Cain (Emmerdale, Hollyoaks and My Parents Are Aliens) and Verity-May Henry (Drifters, Hebburn) complete the talented cast.

Biteback Theatre In association with Jermyn Street Theatre present:
BLIND DATE
by Dave Simpson
Director Alice Bartlett

Jermyn Street Theatre
January 26 – January 31 2015
Saturday matinee 3.30pm
Box office 0207 287 2875
www.jermynstreettheatre.co.uk 

Tuesday 27th January 2015

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