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Blind Date – a must see

A unique and delightful theatrical experience last night – I urge those of you within reach of Harbourfront in Toronto to see Blind Date next week, its last week. Blind Date features a lovely young woman in a clown nose – Rebecca Northan, an actress and expert improviser from Calgary. The show opens with her as Mimi, desolate, sitting in a Paris cafe in a stunning red dress with her red clown nose and a pretty good French accent. Her blind date has stood her up, she tells the audience, and then gets an idea … maybe she’ll find a substitute in the crowd. So she picks a young man out of the audience. Northan has done a bit of trolling before the show started so it’s not 100% random, but still, it’s a huge risk. She brings a complete stranger on stage, and the date begins.

Last night, Jordan was at first impossibly stiff, awkward, self-centered – hopelessly inept. You realise that Northan has two jobs – one is to teach a non-actor how to improvise – how to commit to the theatrical fantasy both are weaving, rather than bailing out with laughter or inappropriate behaviour. Last night, she taught a self-conscious man how to pay attention, listen, be in the moment; how to act. But she also gave him lessons in how to be a good boyfriend – how to pay attention and listen specifically to a woman for whom he cares or is learning to care. As their interaction advanced and Northan gently issued her lessons, couples around me were nodding; a couple in front, after vigourous nodding in agreement, started to smooch.
By the end of the date, the scene has shifted to Mimi’s bedroom, and we are all waiting to see how far this theatrical adventure will go. And yet, it’s always warm and safe, never smutty or sensational. There’s only so much you can do with a woman in a clown nose. And at the end, when Mimi tells Jordan why she loves him, it’s so surprisingly moving that many, including of course your correspondent, were in tears. Blind date Jordan was relaxed, funny and open, a hundred times more attractive than when he started. You realise that this silly improvised clown show is about the deepest matters: what men and women need and want, what love is, how to trust.
Good improvisation is about saying yes – taking what is offered and finding a way to make it work. Northan manages always to say yes to her dates, to take even their most inappropriate stumbles and turn them into something positive for the show, while maintaining a wicked sense of humour – making us laugh yet keeping to her own truth. A very difficult tightrope to walk, which she navigates with ease. She pushes her men into daring to be themselves, taking that risk in front of hundreds of strangers, and it works because she is obviously a tender, humourous, risk-taking person herself.
My favourite kind of theatre – you laugh, you cry, you walk out a wiser person. Don’t miss it.

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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