The premise is simple: Mimi (Rebecca Northan) is an attractive Frenchwoman who has been stood up on a blind date, and so decides to choose a man from the audience to replace him.
The show uses a small set of prepared locations - café, car, lounge, bedroom - and a few given plot elements (to tell them is to spoil them). Otherwise, Mimi and her guest-beau must fly by the seat of their pants and improvise the whole date.
On this night, she picks Jamie, who affably joins Mimi onstage. From the start, Northan helps us and Jamie to feel safe enough to participate: she is never exploitative - mischievous, yes, but always warm and kind. In the hands of a lesser performer, Blind Date could be a bumpy ride, but Northan is a true pro, gently guiding Jamie through an absorbing, touching and frequently very funny evening.
A great asset is the clown's red nose she wears – this conveys to Jamie and us all that the improvised show is a game, and not, lest we forget, a real date.
In spite of the playfulness of the piece, Northan extracts authentic biography, opinions and emotions from her man, and in sharing real-sounding confessions of her own, gives depth to what becomes a riveting story of two strangers getting to know each other.
Mimi is an endearing character, uninhibited and cheery, and Jamie looked like he was having a great time. Aided by three other actors in small parts, and using simple settings and sound effects, the show works very well in the intimate and charming surrounds of the Charing Cross Theatre.
Blind Date is a delicious experience. In spite of it having to be different every night, Rebecca Northan inspires such confidence that I feel I can strongly recommend the show. She uses impro in a fresh and distinctive way, with a subject no one could dislike, and treads the fine line between audience fear and delight with elegance, skill and abundant humour.Alison Goldie