Theatre Review: If only every Blind Date could end this well! 13

Theatre Review: If only every Blind Date could end this well!

Theatre Review: If only every Blind Date could end this well! 9
Photos by BankoMedia Pictured: Tess Degenstein

Blind Date, the sexy sweet improvisational wonder currently filling the house at GCTC, is
deceptively simple yet ingenious. It’s an implausibly risky premise all right—not only that a
drop-dead- gorgeous girl like Mimi would get stood up on a blind date in the first place but that
she then hopes to make the best of the evening by snagging a sub, a non-actor and amateur from
the audience.

It’s (also) the gift that ensures the uniqueness of this endearingly funny show each evening.

 

Theatre Review: If only every Blind Date could end this well! 5For 90 minutes, probably 80 of them unscripted, much is left to chance. To pull off a
performance like this demands a consummate professional be at the wheel to drive the stunt.
Lucky for us, Tess Degenstein (nimbly playing Mimi) is just such a pro.

 

Theatre Review: If only every Blind Date could end this well! 9Any Tom, Dick or Harry can get yanked unsuspectingly from the audience. (How anyone could
say no to Mimi I haven’t a clue.) We got a Thomas. Promising she will take good care of him
(!!), Mimi instructs him to ‘Just Be Himself,’ which for some men in the intimate presence of so
beguiling a beauty as Mimi even breathing must be tough. On stage, as with love, anything can
happen, and does—including the ultimate upshot of consummated love.

 

Theatre Review: If only every Blind Date could end this well! 10

What starts out as an impromptu drink between two strangers, a seemingly predictable night out,
dexterously morphs into stunning plot twists you couldn’t have seen coming and might never see
repeated. That events will never unfold identically at the show you attend to those at the one I
attended is the power of playwright Rebecca’s Northan’s ‘Spontaneous Theatre Creation. It’s also the gift that ensures the uniqueness of this endearingly funny show each evening.

 

Theatre Review: If only every Blind Date could end this well! 11As voyeurs to a date that is as off-the- cuff as you yourself might experience with a stranger keen
to get to know you, we spectators relish, sometimes nervously, other times delightedly, in their
foibles.

 

 

There’s no escape from either a dud of a blind date or a scene gone amiss except for the
taped-off ‘time-out’ square, a clever ploy the play uses to good effect. Into it the players step to
halt the action, suspend our belief in the relationship budding before our eyes and to engage with
us as if players within the play as well.

Put to even better effect is zee Frrrrench accent of Mimi. Her faux foreignness not only makes
her audaciousness excusable, her antics allowable but ups her charm quotient as well. That
wicked little red dress and heels don’t hurt either.

And then there’s that other thing she’s wearing.

Theatre Review: If only every Blind Date could end this well! 12Why she wears a protuberance reminiscent of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer wasn’t raised.
Her accidental date Thomas had the breeding and good manners not to enquire about what’s at
the end of her nose any more than one would make mention of a conspicuous pimple.

 

 

She calls herself a clown but the protuberance is more about creating distance to make Mimi seem
fictional so that nobody, not her Tom/Dick/Harry, not we the voyeur audience, will ever mistake
Mimi for the real thing.

Theatre Review: If only every Blind Date could end this well! 3
Photos by Connie Tsang From Queer Blind Date at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre in Toronto, fall 2016 David Benjamin Tomlinson as “Mathieu”, with audience member

This then, is why this show works as magically as Mimi works her magic on her date.
Mimi and Tom/Dick/Harry aren’t the only players; two others (David Benjamin Tomlinson and
Kristian Reimer) either attend to or apprehend the couple.

 

Theatre Review: If only every Blind Date could end this well! 1

Tomlinson will replace Degenstein
and play Mathieu for one of two ‘Queer Blind Dates,’ December 9th and 16th , in
acknowledgement of non-hetero communities everywhere.

 

 

 

The set functions just fine; were it any more elaborate it would detract from what it seeks to
create: a plausibly un-risky premise. The sound and lighting responds to Mimi’s improvisation
with flawless timing.

I did love this show as did my date, my husband, whose slouch straightened and brow only
stopped sweating once another guy in the audience got picked.

Blind Date runs November 28, 2017 to December 17, 2017 at the Great Canadian Theatre Company, 1233 Wellington St. W. Tickets start at $42

CAST:
Tess Degenstein: Mimi
David Benjamin Tomlinson: Mathieu (Queer Blind Date)

CREATIVE TEAM:
Kristian Reimer: Scenographer
David Benjamin Tomlinson: Scenographer
Emma Brager: Sound Improviser/Stage Manager
Marcie Januska: Associate Producer/Production Manager
Rebecca Northan: Creator/Director/Producer
Christopher Oldfield: Associate Producer

Allyson Domanski writes about travel, the arts and reviews theatre for Ottawa Tonite as well as for Newswest. She is currently completing a major work of creative non-fiction to be published in 2017. An avid traveller and not-quite year-round cyclist, she and her husband spent two and a half years bicycling around the world before she joined the territorial then the federal public service. The hockey and lacrosse mom, owner of a Husky and une cabane au Quebec hails from Winnipeg and has lived from India to Iqaluit but she and her family call Hintonburg home.

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