After critically acclaimed engagements in New York and Toronto, Rebecca Northan’s Blind Date has landed at the Charing Cross Theatre here in London. Actress, Comedienne and ‘Improv-Artist’, Northan stars as Mimi, a playful and flirtatious Parisian woman who has sadly just been stood up for her blind date. After a few self-deprecating jokes, Mimi moves on and finds herself a new date by plucking an unsuspecting man from the audience and making him the romantic hero of the night. Together and with a small ensemble of supporting actors, the two embark on a one-of-a-kind, completely improvised romantic comedy that is guaranteed to have every audience member falling in love.
In many improvised comedies, random audience members are introduced mostly to poke fun at or to laugh at his or her discomfort, but in Blind Date, Jamie, the audience member, played an integral role that shone a light on his own beautiful spirit. The philosophy of Blind Date is “no life is boring and that everyone is a Hero in their own lives,” and Northan uses Mimi and the scenario of a blind date to explore and celebrate the individual who joins her onstage. Throughout the night, the audience got to know Jamie on what felt like a personal level—his personality, his past, significant moments in his life both light and dark —all within the upbeat and hilarious story of the pair’s blind date and future as a couple.
As Mimi, Northan delivers a master class in character acting, comedy, and improvisation, and her supporting ensemble (Kristian Reimer, Jamie Northan, and Sean Bowie) are impressively prepared to intervene at each perfect opportunity. Northan’s ability to listen to new information and react with a quick-witted remark without blinking an eye is absolutely genius, and her own kindness and lovability shines through her character. It is wonderfully clear how much she treasures the unique encounter she experiences throughout the show, and it’s impossible to get through the night without feeling a real affection for both Mimi and her date.
In the performance I saw, Jamie was a fascinating person to get to know: a college dropout, former full-time poker player, and current music manager with two clients who goes through life without ever worrying. When the show ends, Jamie will return to his real life, and in the next performance, a brand new Hero will be discovered from the audience. Northan expertly engages with her chosen date in such a way that pushes them out of their comfort zone but never appears mean-spirited or exploitative, resulting in an interaction that is undoubtedly fun for her, her date, and the entire audience.
Since Blind Date is guaranteed to deliver a brand new show each night, it is not only a show to see– it is a show to see again, and again, and again. Northan’s unique comedic masterpiece is utterly charming, riotously funny, and surprisingly sensitive; a fulfilling experience on many levels. You’d be a fool to stand up this Blind Date.
Blind Date is playing at the Charing Cross Theatre until 13 July. For more information and tickets, see the Charing Cross Theatre website.