Blind Date (Jermyn Street Theatre)
An online dating disaster has a surprising outcome for two would-be lovers in this touching new play
The play about Andrew and Angela, two lonely misfits looking for love, began life as part of the JB Shorts festival in Manchester. Its original 15 minutes was doubled, and it's since been extended to a full-scale production.
The would-be lovers each start their search by posting a pack of lies on their dating profiles. Both are quirky, nervy and harbour shameful secrets that are almost impossible to share.
But once they meet, they become funny and warm - the time flies - they really like each other… but it's not meant to be. Endless obstacles stop the yearning twosome from getting together, to a soundtrack of lost-love anthems, from ABBA to "All By Myself".
Will Travis and Susan Mcardle sustain what is in effect a two-hander with a very convincing display of crushing insecurities, though their diffidence gets so maddening at times, you want to give them both a good shove into the bedroom and lock the door until the deed is done.
They are ably supported by multi-tasking Verity-May Henry - especially good as a suspicious bride - and Drew Cain, the snooty date who thinks he's far too good-looking for our Angela.
Writer Dave Simpson creates all the close-up emotion and dramatic plot twists expected from a writer with Corrie and Emmerdale among his credits.
But while we know that Andrew and Angela appreciate each other's love of silly jokes, the meat and potatoes of their relationship isn't fully explored because they spend so many scenes breaking up.
Some of the circumstances that keep the lovers apart feel a little strained – there's a disastrous misunderstanding over a porn video. Poor jokes about a real dog involved in 'dogging' fall rather flat too, and the surreal final scene lifts the play above and beyond credulity.
Yet there's sincerity and vigour in all the performances, and director Alice Bartlett has found a deeply touching heart to this tender, funny play about a couple who see themselves as the ultimate in ordinariness, but together create an extraordinary love that lasts through all adversity.
There's also strong work from lighting designer James Mason, who creates everything from dingy clubs to fireworks night as the years roll on.
Thankfully there's blissfully happy ending to Blind Date, but do Angela and Andrew finally make it to the bedroom?
Have a guess…
Blind Date runs at Jermyn Street Theatre until 31 January