Tarragon's Blind Date a hilarious improv show

Play returns to Toronto after playing off-Broadway, London and across Canada

Image of Rebecca Northan / Mimi (right) and Christy Bruce

Rebecca Northan / Mimi (right) and Christy Bruce | Photo: Aliona Kuts / The Dialog staff

Rebecca Northan brings her fabulous show to Toronto’s Tarragon Theatre this fall. The hilarious 90-minute play is different from anything you’ve seen on stage before. It has no script and is never rehearsed beforehand. Everything the spectators see is pure improvisation.

The plot is simple. Mimi, a charming but sharp-tongued wine lover, is waiting for a blind date in a café, wearing a sexy red dress, fishnet stockings and…a red nose. When the date doesn’t show up, Mimi turns to the audience for help. When one of the men volunteers, the unpredictable adventure begins.

Blind Date will show everything that could happen on a first date (and some things you would never imagine). You will hear jokes (sometimes even dirty ones), profanity and lots of laughing both onstage and offstage. Moreover, unlike other plays, this one literally speaks with the audience.

After watching the heroes breaking the ice by making fun of almost every possible first date cliché (including date waiting times and guys who are “really listening”), the viewers get to decide how the date will end. Add to this the heroine’s incredible memory and sense of humour, and you’ll get the perfect recipe for laughing out loud for 90 minutes straight.

During the talkback that followed the play, Northan and her crew told the history of Blind Date, shared some amusing stories and answered questions from the audience. When coming up with her character, Northan explained, she decided to add a red nose to it.

“First of all, there is no sexy clown in this environment. Besides, I could do the show without the nose, but it would be sad and creepy. It is also a reminder for the guy and me that we’re still playing, we’re in the performance.”

The show is actually very structured, according to Northan, even though it might not be obvious. “Following the structure and assisting Mimi is a job of the whole crew,” says Jamie Northan, a stage manager and sound improviser. They also help with picking a date before the show. “We follow a simple rule: if we were at a party, would we like to keep talking to this person?” illustrated Northan.

“However, we avoid extremes of both sides. Neither too shy, nor too assertive guy is who we are looking for.”

Sometimes the plot goes way beyond expectations. From moments when the date’s wife has made Mimi change into a blue dress because she didn’t like her red one, to a phenomenal night in St. Paul, Minnesota, where out of 400 people in the audience 26 were men who had once participated in the show.

Mimi’s date that night was a seminary student. Not only did he insist on getting married before going to Mimi’s place, but he also shot a cop on their way home and the show ended with him on death row.

“Those 26 men were sitting there with their mouths wide open thinking ‘you guys really are improvising,’ ” said Northan. “On the other hand, I’ve seen 200 to 400 people falling in love with a stranger, wives and girlfriends falling in love with their partners all over again — and that’s when it is the best.”


CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that in a performance in St. Paul, Minnisota out of 48 people in the audience 26 were men who had been in the show. In fact, there were 400 people in the audience. 


Tarragon's Blind Date a hilarious improv show