I have a lot of respect for actors. It takes courage to do what they do: mining the depths of the human psyche, emotionally going where few others will, to say nothing of the uncertainty of living contract to contract.
Rebecca Northan’s Blind Date, though, is a display of fearlessness that is rare even in the theatre. In it, Mimi (Northan) is stood up for her date at a French bistro and turns to the audience for a new companion. The result is a daring, loosely structured, ninety-minute improv session with a complete stranger.
Make no mistake – this is no over-rehearsed final product. What the audience witnesses every night is different, and authentically replicates everything a first date is in real life: awkward and sweet, painful and delightful.
If ever confused or nervous as to how to proceed, Mimi and her
victim date have the option of calling a “time out,” allowing them to work out their kinks in relative safety (albeit still on the Mainstage at the Tarragon).
The tech pros get in on the action, too, as they improvise the lights and sound throughout the show, creating some moments of true theatre magic. When Northan’s date reaches for the radio dial during a car scene, he seems as surprised as everyone else when it flickers to life and a classic rock song comes pouring out. The thin air around the actors is suddenly charged with possibility.
But wait, you’re thinking, pulling a non-actor up on stage for ninety minutes? Isn’t that a recipe for disaster? And sure, it could be - but not under Northan’s supervision. She deftly guides the action while allowing her co-star’s best qualities to shine. Everyone looks good in this show.
As the pair chats, flirts and smooches their way into our hearts, we find a remarkably poignant love story developing, one with a surprising depth of feeling.
Blind Date runs until Oct. 4. For a thrilling, butterflies-in-the-stomach piece of theatre, don’t miss it. For more information about Blind Date, visit www.tarragontheatre.com.
photo credit: Michael Meehan