“You may be romanced,” the programme for Blind Date not so much tempts as threatens. Increasingly, interactive shows seem to culminate with a hapless audience member awkwardly snogging an actor as their wife/ boyfriend/ lover watches on furiously from the front row. Here, there’s a bit of that, but also something much more harrowing – the chance for one (male) theatregoer to reveal his life story to a French clown called Mimi and a packed auditorium of strangers.
Tonight’s lucky winner or victim, depending on your viewpoint, is Jamie. He is an upbeat freelancer who works in music and says things like: “I don’t worry about anything.” Just as well, really, as Mimi’s creator and performer Rebecca Northan is about to delve into parts of his life that most people would tactfully avoid mentioning. As the two’s ‘date’ progresses, the audience’s uproarious laughter turns to uneasy gasps.
Expert improviser and multi-award winner Northan treads a thrillingly fine line between everyday comedy and tragedy, ambitiously attempting to weave nearly two hours of narrative out of Jamie’s life. It’s often funny and, at times, even moving. While the pace drags towards the end, Mimi is a charismatic creation (played by Renee Amber and Christy Bruce on certain dates of the tour), well supported by the rest of the talented if underused cast. However, it’s difficult not to wonder if, after his curtain call and final bow, Jamie is looking back on an exciting and cathartic night on stage or feeling violated, having given up personal information for our entertainment that he now can’t take back.
Charing Cross Theatre, London. Until 13 July
Written forThe Stage