by Liz Richards · January 13, 2015
I confess: I love eavesdropping on first dates. I love the mix of excitement and vulnerability and awkwardness with a hint of desperation. So The Blind Date Project, part of PS 122's COIL Festival, already had me interested. Bubbly Australian Bojana Novakovic stars as Anna, a woman waiting for her Tinder date to arrive at a karaoke dive bar. Her date is a surprise to her, but is announced to ticketholders a few days prior. At my performance, it was 90s movie and TV star Larisa Oleynik; past performances have featured Reggie Watts, Adam Busch, and Laverne Cox.
Before the performance, the dates are given a "want" by director Scott Rodgers, then both performers are coached through his texts and phone calls. This can prove a bit distracting as Anna and her date find excuses to check their phones, but I suppose they are security blankets of sorts, and how often do you check your phone at the bar during lulls? But ultimately, Anna is driving the bus (or the Uber, as was the case in this performance). She's kooky- sitting on the bar, playing Fuck Marry Kill with different kinds of nuts - but her want for love and a connection move the piece forward as they explore how people connect, and what they expect love to provide for them.
When there seemed to be a dip in energy or the storyline, Anna and Leslie (Oleynik) threw back a couple vodka shots and headed to the karaoke machine to sing truncated versions of classic cheesy love songs, like Eternal Flame and Hopelessly Devoted to You. Oleynik's Leslie was a single mom with a child from a previous marriage, tentatively putting herself back in the (lesbian) dating world. Her performance was incredibly honest and sweet, giving a much quieter take on the usually big and loud improv show. I was rooting for her and Anna to leave together, and it felt like a group triumph when they did.
Of course, performances can vary, and just like any blind date, you don't know exactly what you're walking into, but I think The Blind Date Project is worth swiping right on.