Edinburgh Fringe 2019
A blind date turns into a night of hilarity in a completely improvised show.
I arrive at the Canada Hub and am escorted to the theatre lobby to wait for the doors to open. I’m greeted by a “waiter” with a tray of compliments. Like a pre-show canape, I’m asked to choose a piece of paper. Inside is my compliment: “you light up the room with your smile”. Others have different compliments: “every person in the room is trying not to get caught staring at your beauty” and “you are irresistible”. We each get a different saying. A woman in a red dress and clown nose and a man in bunny ears come out to chat with everyone. What a positive way to start the night!
The house opens, and we see a sparse set with a bistro table and two chairs. There is French jazz playing in the background, setting the mood for a romantic evening in a restaurant. Mimi, played by Rebecca Northan, is at the table, waiting for her blind date to show up. He’s two hours late. What’s a girl to do? Pick another date. So she does. This French “clown” heads in to the audience to choose someone who will be her foil for the next 90 minutes.
Greg, a random guy from the audience, agrees to play along and is escorted onto the stage. Greg and Mimi start a casual conversation over wine. She gives him the ground rules, including taking him over to the “time out” zone, like the punishment corner in a classroom, where he will have to go with her if something goes awry during their skit.
The fun begins. They replicate a typical new encounter, with questions about professions, lifestyle, and hometown. He is a college teacher. She is a clown, who says that she uses the clown persona to get government arts grants (I think that’s an inside Canadian joke). He likes jogging and outdoor sports. As she breaks down the barriers with Greg, the questions become more personal. They discuss the issue of consent. Do you want children? What do you like to do on a date? How about a dance? He plays along. And every time he says or does something that doesn’t fit the scene, she takes him to the time out zone. After many adventures, they land five years in the future to show where the relationship has taken them.
I won’t spoil the rest of the show but it does get more personal and intimate. Greg is a good sport and plays along with even the most outrageous turn of events.
Rebecca’s improv is spot on. She can turn a very ordinary situation into a very funny piece of theatre. She baits her on-stage guest, but does it with kindness, never shaming him or making him feel too uncomfortable. She is extremely quick-witted and can write on the fly. The two other cast members play a variety of roles, including restaurant waiter and policeman. The three actors work well together, clearly skilled in improv.
It is an evening of surprises and laughter. And because there is someone chosen from the audience each night to be the blind date, it will always be different. And likely will always be charming and funny.
Rebecca is completely convincing as a woman from France. Her accent is impeccable. However, I was surprised to learn that she is from Calgary, Alberta, not France. She is an actor, theatre director, improviser and improv teacher whose comedy work has won major theatre awards in Canada. She is an alumna of the famous comedy club Second City. When not acting, Rebecca teaches improvisation in the business community. I can just imagine the fun that she has with stuffy corporate types. She would be perfect to loosen them up!