Entering the ZOO Cabaret Bar, you find yourself in the Karaoke Klub that dreams are made of. Rainbow string lights adorn the stage where an equally enthusiastic bar maid is giving it her all on the mic with some classic renditions. Although she swears you can get up and do one if you like, her face says otherwise and we titter nervously, ordering drinks and settling in for what is sure to be an unexpected hour, both for us and those performing.
The premise of the show, you see, is that Anna is looking for love and she doesn’t know who her date is… and neither of them have a script. Instead, their director does his thing from the back of the room through a series of texts and phone calls. Each performer has a reason as to why they’re so preoccupied with their phone and our lucky lady was Nina Conti who used the ruse of a child at home to take her leave when necessary and listen to Scott’s instructions. Conti is witty and quick and her obvious experience on stage has the audience collapsing with laughter- of course matched by her co-star, Anna, played by Bojana Novakovic.
Their conversation takes twists and turns you couldn’t have expected and they get surprisingly deep for a first date. Yet the way the conversation develops, albeit with the help of some vodka shots, poured begrudgingly by our favourite Karaoke Kween, is so natural that at times you forget that you’re watching what is supposed to be a performance. This type of theatre, only truly possible by such light direction keeps the audience entertained and focussed the entire time, as you have no idea just where they’ll be going next.
I can’t help but wonder whether we got lucky to have someone as energetic and honest as Conti and whether or not the quality of conversation would be able to be sustained each time by Novakovic. Nevertheless her intelligent responses to Conti and humour for us was exactly on point. The idea that you can go and see it multiple times and see a very different piece is one that may make me pop back and witness a brand new date. As a project, this not only keeps it fresh for audiences, but for the team and cast as well. It is an hour of unadulterated fun and it’s well worth staying for the hour after on a Wednesday where the team themselves run a Karaoke night to hilarious ends.
The Blind Date Project is playing at ZOO Cabaret Bar until 28 August. For more information and tickets, see the ZOO Festival website.