by David C. Jones
Blind Date is one of the freakiest funniest most accomplished improv shows I have ever experienced! Go!
But to say it is an improv show could possibly discourage from as many people as it excites to attend. This is not Whose Line Is It Anyway? or TheatreSports. This is a high risk / stupendously rewarding theatrical experience, a self described social experiment that captures that all encompassing human need – to find a desirable mate.
The witty and loving Rebecca Northan plays a clownish French character named Mimi. Before the show she and her two helpers wander through the lobby chatting with people and handing out pick up lines. This is when she is locating her ‘mark’. A male audience member who will be her co-star – for the whole show!
Now because the show is mostly Mimi and the audience member (the two companions play a small variety of parts like waiters and cops as required) it will be different every night. This can’t help but make it very in the moment and fresh experience each time. I was attending a show a couple of nights into the local run and in the audience was another local critic back for his second go round.
We watch him get nervous, get defensive and then grow into a romantic hero – and we participate right along with him.
Although very funny and at times biting – the show is sweet and loving. We watch a real audience member – in our case recently engaged Jarrod an articling student - try to figure out what he is expected to do, like on a real blind date. We watch him get nervous, get defensive and then grow into a romantic hero – and we participate right along with him.
Rebecca Northan has crafted a show that keeps the audience member safe and never makes them look bad. At anytime he, or Mimi or his in the audience real life fiancée can call “time out” and the music stops, the lighting changes and they walk over to a spot to clarify a moment. At our show he called it a couple of times to clarify things like if he really had to kiss her. Mimi called it a couple of times when she was gently but firmly calling him out of ‘bullshit’ untruthful responses.
Improv is about making the other person look good and about accepting offers – what is quite remarkable about this show that travels from a restaurant, to a car to Mimi’s Uncle’s apartment and beyond – is how much Northan allows the audience member to lead the show. She confidently uses expectant silence to draw the audience member out of his awkward shell. It is beautiful and funny to watch.
She is coming from such a place of positivity and joy the audience feels safe as we see the audience member feels safe, anxious but safe. Let me clarify – Mimi is also dangerous with a caustic edge – a little unpredictable – just like people in real life. In the end the experience blossoms to a sweet story - happy ending that leaves the audience hopeful and amazed.
It’s makes you (as it did Jarrod) giggle, blush, feel awkward, get excited and scared, feel naughty and finally whoop with joy – just like a really great date.