Jan 26

HPR - Blind Date Review

by Wil Knoll · 1 comment

This review might be late, but so was her original date…

There’s a question sometimes about the value of a review for a show that only runs for a week. If you’re able to get a review up of opening night, sometimes the cast have not been able to settle in. If you get the review up a few days in, there’s little chance that the review would be able to influence people to see the show. But sometimes you just have to review a show so that it’s documented somewhere, as a valued piece of our shared history.

Rebecca Northan’s Blind Date is a gem, worthy of documentation and its place in this Year’s High Performance Rodeo. Rebecca Northan is gorgeous, aggressive, coy, heartfelt and sexy all rolled into one. It is balls to the wall theatre, with Northan throwing herself to the wolves every night for about an hour and a half or longer.

Sometimes though, Northan plays the wolf.

Blind Date plays out much as a blind date would. Two parties that are unfamiliar with each other sit down over assorted beverages and “see where the night goes”. Northan plays Mimi, our francophone enchantress that is at both times innocent and suggestive. Her date? Her pick. No professional actors as plants in the audience. No rehearsal. Just Mimi and a real someone plucked out of their chair.

The basic platform is simple. There’s a table, service staff that serve drink orders, maybe a few other locations… There is a timeout box, a high stool in a box of light where Northan and her date can step outside of the reality of the date for a breather or a talk with the audience. The date plays out in slightly condensed time, and some set pieces may or may not be used depending on the night and the date.

During the High Performance Rodeo I laughed and guffawed through two date’s of Mimis. They could not have been more different.

Guy 1. I will call him Slick, like the product in the hair. Rides motorbikes for a living. Wears three hundred dollar jeans (what the what?). Likes to go fast. He seems like a study in confidence and corny lines, which seems for the first while to work well with Mimi. All he would have to say is that he was a volunteer fireman and we all could have called it a night. But surprisingly, he draws the line, refusing to kiss our girl…

Guy 2. I will call him msimoens, as that is his twitter alias. He’s the contrast to Slick. Msimoens codes software, is a very lightweight drinker, and doesn’t ride motor bikes. He’s a bundle of nerves at times, noticing often that the heat of the stage lights cannot be escaped by heading over to the time-out box. Although he may not have quite the polished moves of Slick, he still has his own recipe for earnest charm and smiles, which ends in a rather hot make out session on the couch. And then his wife’s best friend called for a time out.

Yeah, it’s like watching a sexy car crash, but it’s such a great voyeuristic time.

Blind Date has enjoyed success across Canada and now has had a fantastic return run in Calgary at the HPR playing to packed houses and lively audiences. It’s a great showcase for Northan’s talents. She is coming off of a strong season, including a run of Blind Date in Toronto for the Worldstage Series and a saucy showing in the 10 Minute Play festival on Ground Zero’s team.

But there’s a larger reason for its appeal beyond Northan’s charm and talent. Blind Date lets us all step outside of our own dating experiences, and pray that buddy up on stage manages to dig himself out of the trap we watched him walk into. We get to pretend that it wasn’t us that missed all those signs that she was telegraphing, or it wasn’t us that had been caught with our fingers in her box…

If Northan decides to stage Blind Date again, we all should give her a chance to find out if there is any chemistry. It could be a beautiful thing.

The High Performance Rodeo presented
Blind Date
Rebecca Northan
January 19-23
Lunchbox Theatre

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