I sit across from the computer screen staring at a black box with a big K in the middle, waiting to hear my blind date’s voice. I finally hear a timid “Hello,” and my Zoom date with Kent begins. Kent is a 9th grade English teacher who, during this time of COVID-19, is virtually teaching his students about The Scarlet Letter. Kent has a nice voice and infectious laugh, but I’m skeptical about if he’s the real deal at the start. Then Kent brings up the last book he read, Ready Player One, in which people spend most of their time interacting in a virtual world. He continues to talk about how weird it is to read about virtual reality, only to be forced into living it due to this pandemic. As a bibliophile, my heart opens a tiny bit more, and I relax into our date. As we continue chatting, I start to wonder what his facial expressions look like, what he’s doing with his hands, what he’s wearing…
Blind Love, co-produced by Katy Foley and Lena Valentine (Best Night Ever and Paulie’s Polymer’s Office Christmas Party), is KatNip Productions’ first virtual, immersive production. Performed over Zoom, this fully interactive show takes participants on three different dates over the course of an hour – totally blind, cameras off, so all anyone can hear is a voice at the other end of the line. At the end of the dates, the participant must eliminate one of their potential suitors from the roster. Blind Love takes place over the course of three nights, and participants have the option to choose a ticket for one, two, or all three nights of interactions. Similar to the popular Netflix show Love is Blind, KatNip Productions delivers fun, lighthearted entertainment to whisk guests away from all the Corona Virus-related stress.
At the beginning of the show, audience members are introduced to the evening’s hosts, The Cliches. The Cliches are drunk and silly and make great fun of the hosts of Love is Blind. The Cliches often reference the other show by saying, “Wait…we can’t say that. Copyright!” and provide delightful entertainment while participants are waiting for producers to invite them to a breakout room for the private dates. They even poke fun at themselves/the other show by referencing how heteronormative this set-up is – a huge criticism viewers had of Love is Blind.
Each date that I went on felt authentic – evoking feelings of joy, giddiness, nervousness, and skepticism over whether or not the person I was talking to was the real deal. The actors rolled easily with whatever information I gave them, and they threw me some curveballs as well, making me question what components lead to love and attraction.
The characters were similar to any person found on a dating site, but slowly revealed details that turned a low-key blind date into something wild. For example, Kent revealed to me that he had only been with men, and had never been on a “proper” date before. However, as a reformed fuck boi, he thought he should explore all personalities despite his lack of experience with women. Every date offered a different and delightful twist – which ranged from cute to shocking – forcing me to question if this surprise was a deal-breaker for romance, or whether I was able to overlook some less-than-ideal attributes in a potential partner.
For a production relying entirely on technology working properly, there were some connectivity issues when interacting with the hosts, and the pop-up box leading to the breakout rooms didn’t always appear. However, everyone involved handled these problems adeptly, giving participants clear directions on how to fix it. The hosts and producers seemed very knowledgeable about the intricacies and idiosyncrasies of Zoom, which enhanced the experience, as the participants were quickly moved past any tech issues, allowing them to go back to simply enjoying the event.
Despite any technical difficulties that may have occurred, Blind Love is a delightful escape from reality during this stressful time. I left feeling more joyous after this show than I have in the entire month of shelter-in-place. If you’re a fan of the show Love is Blind, or if you ever wondered if you believe in blind love, this show gives you the opportunity to explore meeting someone without seeing them, and may even make you question your current beliefs about love and attraction.