The Blind Date Project
As if going on a Tinder date wasn't nerve-racking enough, imagine having a live audience critiquing your every move.
The Blind Date Project is a pleasure to watch from start to finish; funny and heartbreaking in equal measure. The premise is interesting, with the potential to be hit-and-miss: one girl (ex Shorty St actress Natalie Medlock) goes on 31 semi-blind Tinder dates with 31 different men in the tacky karaoke bar The Basement has been transformed into. It feels real because it is – the audience are seated on cheap tables inside the bar itself; there’s no demarcation between us and them, and Medlock’s Anna has no clue who she’ll be meeting each time – she’s just as clueless as us. The whole experience felt like sitting next to a couple on their first date at a restaurant and rolling your eyes/giggling at them in a superior manner while knowing you couldn’t do any better.
Anna’s date on opening night is a witty, insecure, downtrodden bloke named James, who comes in with a bunch of petrol station flowers with the price tag still on. Anna is thrilled - she's out with a guy for the first time in three years and her outfit, according to James, is “straight from 1985” - a too-short, too–fitted blue jumpsuit, shiny heels and a leather jacket. “When I put it on I thought, 'No, Anna'”, she admits, “but then I had a few drinks and thought 'Yes, Anna!'”
Overly enthusiastic, she’s devised several games to help them get to know each other better: shoot, shag, marry (but with herbs), Freudian what-would-you-do quizzes, and choosing songs for each other based on the detail in their respective Tinder profiles. With all the alcohol these two consume, it’s fair to say things escalate pretty damn fast: polite yet awkward chatter turns into tears and histrionic confessions of unplanned children and affairs. Both are extremely talented at acting drunk - the wild conversational tangents and pseudo-profound banter is on point.
Anna and James are both flawed yet endearing characters, and their desperation to connect with each other is quite touching. When they finally do, you’re rooting for them like you would for two friends you’ve known for years. The dynamics between the pair are utterly believable, and you find yourself wanting to be a fly on the wall of their developing relationship: I wanted to follow them to Denny’s after the show, to read their text conversation the next morning (“So nice to meet you! Omg how drunk were we last night? LOL”), to be invited over for dinner at their flat a year later.
I can’t think of anything more terrifying than improv, and both actors put on a performance that was so natural it didn’t even feel like one. So if there’s one show you catch from Silo Theatre’s summer season, make sure it’s The Blind Date Project.