Rebecca Northan in Blind Date – Harbourfront Centre

by Sam Mooney

Rebecca Northan in Blind Date

When I first heard about Rebecca Northan’s Blind Date last year the idea made me feel a bit squeamish. Blind Date is an improvised show where Northan – as Mimi – picks a man from the audience as her blind date for the evening after her arranged date is a no show. Definitely cringe potential.

Then I heard so many good things about it that I really wanted to see it, but it was sold out. So when I heard the show was coming back to Toronto – to the Harbourfront Centre as part of World Stage

…obviously I had to see it. And so should you. It was a wonderful evening.

I loved it. Megan, my play partner for the evening, loved it. The women in the audience loved it. The men in the audience loved it.

It’s an interesting premise for a show. Mimi sits in a cafe in Paris, waiting for her blind date. She finally realizes he isn’t going to show. It makes perfect sense that she invites someone from the audience to be her date.

Scott was Mimi’s date and what a terrific date he was. All of the women (and a many of the men) fell in love with him. At first, it seems like the success of the evening depends on the date, but the truth is, the success depends on Mimi. She has to gauge who might be a good choice and then she has to make them comfortable enough to “perform” on a stage in front of a bunch of strangers.

Scott was wonderful,; he was right there, not holding anything back. He was obviously committed to making the evening work.

This must be an incredibly difficult form of improv. One of the players isn’t a professional and probably has zero acting experience, let alone improv experience. It’s a risky thing to do.

Megan had an interesting observation. She said that if the show had been scripted, it wouldn’t have been anything special – it was the fact that it wasn’t scripted that made it so good.

The audience was really connected to the show. I could hear people around me softly offering encouragement and suggestions. Women were sighing and saying “ahh” when Scott said or did something that they particularly liked. Men whispered their own suggestions and encouragement. It was lovely.

The theatre is set up like a cabaret. There`s a bar selling wine and beer. There’s free popcorn. The doors open at 7, and accordion music sets the scene. Mimi mingles and schmoozes, checking for potential dates.

After the performance, Rebecca takes a short break and then answers questions. I was talking to a couple of women while we waited. They both said that it had been a special performance, that it wasn’t an ordinary evening. It made me want to see the show again. Each evening is unique because there’s a different date every night.

There was enough of a demand that they extended the run of the show to March 12. But I wouldn’t wait; I’d get your tickets right away, ’cause I wouldn’t be surprised if it sells out again – and quickly.

Details:

Blind Date is playing as part of World Stage at The Brigantine Room Harbourfront Centre (235 Queen’s Quay West) until March 12
– Performances are Tuesday through Saturday at 8pm, doors open at 7pm
– Tickets are $30.00 and are available online or at the box office

Photo of Rebecca Northan by Dale Simmons