by Meredith Jones Russell
A sexy French clown goes on a blind date with a willing gentleman from the audience. And it is wonderful.
As you are ushered in to the theatre to witness this potentially most alarming of spectacles, French waiters politely hand out small typed compliments from silver platters. ‘You are beautiful,’ reads one. This gives the immediate reassurance needed before this kind of show. This is not about humiliation or nastiness. Far from it, Blind Date is full of warmth, heart and even love.
Mimi the French clown, played by Rebecca Northan, is the most gently comedic and delightfully charming host, director, master of ceremonies and date any man could hope for. On inviting her willing volunteer to the stage, she immediately sets out the terms of the evening – she wants him to be comfortable, and if at any point he is not, she demonstrates how he can call for a time out to regroup.
With the help of a small supporting cast, Northan guides her date through a variety of hilarious and wacky situations, including a run-in with the police and a flash-forward to their shared future, with absolute control and aplomb. She also allows for time to genuinely get to know her date – on this occasion a shy, sensitive gamer who has been single for 10 years.
Northan creates a hugely supportive and kind atmosphere which helps her co-star and the audience get the most possible humour from the whole situation. And it is incredibly funny. A mixture of playfulness, wise-cracking, physical comedy, smut and clowning are combined expertly to make an absolutely hysterical, brilliant night that is so adeptly managed you almost believe it hasn’t been.
But make no mistake, it’s a beautifully, meticulously organised hour and a half, in which Northan succeeds in making not only her date but also the whole audience feel entirely at ease even when the whole evening relies on improvisation, amateurs and very little storyline.
An absolute pearl of a show, and not to be missed; you’ll definitely regret standing Mimi up.
Blind Date runs through 25 August in Edinburgh.
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