By Alex Rayment
Two words: Bloody brilliant. There you have it folks, Blind Date by Harbourfront Worldstage is awesome. You are now free to ignore the rest of this review and go book your tickets. If you’ve checked and tickets were sold out – check again, they’re adding 45 more seats. But enough of the sales pitch, on to the events in question.
At the beginning, the stage is set with a classic Parisian cafe table and chairs, very romantic. The audience is also seated in a cafe style around the space which is cosy. My two companions and I got to meet and friendly guy by the name of Doug who sat at our table. We chatted until the show started, helped along by the cash bar which may, or may not, have brought in as much money as the show itself.
So here’s the rundown: A Parisian clown named Mimi is stood up for a blind date. She then decides to pull a man from the audience to be her substitute. He’s not a planted actor, but neither is he completely random. Mimi spends the hour before the show starts perusing the crowd, shopping for suitable candidates. It wouldn’t be much of a show if she brought up someone who hardly says a word.
Once the “lucky” guy (in our case – Graham) is up on stage and introduced, the date begins. From there hilarity ensues. For some reason, knowing that the man is not an actor makes just about everything they say, or do, funny. Especially the awkward pauses in conversation, which are normally avoided in improv.
Now I’m not sure if you realize this or not, but improv is really tiring. 90 minutes of inventing ahead while still paying attention to what’s going on around you can be draining for even the most seasoned improvisors. To chain some poor sap on stage for that length of time would be cruel, for him and the audience.
Luckily some clever person came up with the idea of the time-out box. In one corner of the stage there sits a stool with a red box around drawn around it, this is the time-out box. At any time the participant, or Mimi, can call a time-out. The date is then “paused” and the two of them go over to the stool, take a break, talk about how the date’s going, converse with the audience and so on. This great change of pace allows the show to stay fresh.
Over the hour and a half, the setting had changed from the cafe, to a car, to Mimi’s apartment and, of course, her bedroom. Before you start thinking it’s that kind of show [sighs of relief…or disappointment?], know that Mimi nicely improvised around the indecent parts and we end up seeing the couple in the distant future.
The night was great. The show was great. Laughs all around. If you like loose theatre (no pun intended), definitely check this one out. Oh and by the way, it’s improv – yelling things at the performers is generally encouraged.
– Show runs March 3-7 at the Harbourfront Centre (235 Queens Quay West)
– Doors are at 7pm, show at 8 pm.
– Tickets are $25 and can be bought online (www.harbourfrontcentre.com) or via phone 416 973 4000
Photo of Rebecca Northan by Dale Simmons