At the Cultch until Oct. 7
Tickets: 604-251-1363, thecultch.com
Unbelievable. It’s absolutely unbelievable what Canadian writer/performer Rebecca Northan gets a guy to reveal on stage at the Cultch. Blind Date is so funny, so risky, sweet, kind and clever, you’ll want to go back another night to see how it goes with a different “date.”
Northan, as Mimi, waits alone at a little restaurant table, waiting for her date. She’s been waiting for two hours. He’s not coming. Ah, maybe there’s some guy out there in the audience who’d like to be her date tonight?
On opening night Mark—a little bit shy—agreed to be Mimi’s date, leaving his wife seated in the audience. Before all the men head for the hills hollering, “No bloody way will I risk Blind Date,” here are the rules: once he agreed to be Mimi’s date, Mark was allowed unlimited time outs if the going got uncomfortable. Mimi and Mark could cross the stage to a safe spot called Reality and talk it over before proceeding any further. Mark’s wife was also allowed a time out if things progressed outside her comfort zone. As well, Mark knew when he and his wife bought tickets that Blind Date required a volunteer date; he wasn’t blindsided. What he didn’t know—until after the curtain went up—was that Mimi would choose him.
On opening night the action proceeded from the restaurant and Mimi’s car, to her apartment where a couple of hosers (played by Bruce Horak and Jamie Northan) turned up to interrupt—but only briefly—what looked like an increasingly hot date.
Northan, sporting a red clown nose, is gorgeous. Her French accent is charming and she has the most endearing gesture, usually seen in little girls: shoulders uplifted into a shrug, chin jutted out, wide eyes and the most disarming, mischievous smile. Melts you into a little puddle. Northan had just bought a foxy little red dress with the label, Stop Staring. And you will stare. For 90 minutes.
But she’s so much more than beautiful: she’s really smart. I have never seen a volunteer so generously and sensitively treated. Sure, we laughed but never at Mark’s expense. Northan explores, through Mark, our dating rituals, our awkwardness, mores and gender expectations. She really listened to Mark; she’s not looking for an opportunity to be funny or entertaining, she’s really listening and responding to the guy on stage with her at that moment. And she’s very, very good at it.
And fearless. Wait ’til you see where she stashes her wine glass when the cop pulls Mimi over for driving erratically. Mark, initially a fairly proper sort of fellow, got into it and, would you believe, stripped down to his shorts. When he asked Mimi, “So, do you wanna make out?” Northan stopped dead in her tracks, faced the audience and told us no one has ever come right out and asked her that on stage.
Northan wraps it all up with the most thoughtful summary of real Mark’s real strengths: kind, sensitive, decent, great smile, fabulous teeth, great body but most of all brave. With every other guy in the audience initially thinking, “Thank God it’s not me on stage,” Mimi/Northan admired Mark most for his risk-taking. After all the laughter, it’s so wonderfully gracious how she wraps it up.
“I’m the luckiest woman in the world,” says Mimi. Northan makes her own luck night after night at the Cultch. Once the word gets out, you’ll be lucky to get a ticket.
And guys, fear not. You could get lucky—this gorgeous, intelligent, sexy, funny woman might choose you to share an hour and a half with her onstage. Who could resist?