Rebecca Northan.

Blind Date

Smash hit Canadian improv format Blind Date has descended upon Edinburgh for the Fringe. We spoke to Rebecca Northan about the show.

Can you explain the Blind Date concept to us please...?

We bring a different gentleman from the audience up on stage each night for a blind date with "Mimi", a saucy French clown. We're together for 90 minutes, and how far things go, depends entirely on how playful and willing the audience member is.

The format has been performed over 800 times now. We guess the improv nature keeps it feeling fresh?

100% correct! There is a loose structure to the show, to keep things moving - but we will throw out our structure in a flash, if we need to. We often have audience members see the show 5 - 6 times, because it can be so different, night to night. We never know who will be the co-star, and what will come from them.

How much like Mimi are you? Have you ever chosen someone you really fancy as a participant?

"Mimi" and I are extremely similar. Any story I tell on stage, is from my own life. We ask our audience member co-star to be themselves, and tell the truth - and so we honour that by offering the same. If you see another woman play "Mimi" (which you might, as Ali Froggatt, one of the other Blind Date stars, is here as part of the Fringe) then you will get entirely different stories, that are true from her life.

And - I'm not going to lie - YES, I have chosen someone I fancy many times because 'casting is everything'! And...I am a bit selfish. Also - I have a broad taste in men, so on any given night, there are often several possible choices in the crowd....then it all depends on who is interested in playing with us.

What's the most extreme the show has got in the past?

Define "extreme"! We've had a date receive multiple phone numbers after the show from women in the audience who fancied him by the end.

It's not uncommon for men to end up in their underwear at one point in the show - entirely THEIR choice to get their kit off if they want to, BTW! We had a seminary student (!) commit a murder during the date, and the show ended on death row (we were in the United States...so...you know...).

One gentleman took a phone call on stage in the first 15 minutes because he said it was important - and found out he'd been diagnosed with cancer for the third time. He insisted on finishing the show, because it was an experience he needed to have. He sent flowers and wine the next week, and a note revealing the doctor had made a mistake. We all cried.

.... We've also had former dates get in touch months after doing the show to tell us how the experience changed their lives, which always makes us cry.

Can you talk to us a little about respect and consent, in regards to dealing with the volunteer?

Absolutely! We never, ever want to push someone into anything they are not comfortable with. The show is always meant to be in good fun. In that spirit, we mingle with the crowd before the show to get an idea of who might be willing to participate. We give them a brief outline of how the show works, and we let them know that they are able to stop the action, and redirect it if they are ever feeling uncomfortable. If the gentleman has a wife, or girlfriend in the audience - she too is given the power to stop the show if she needs to. We want to take care of our guest, and make sure they have a nice time.

You've got over 20 dates to do this August. How are you going to keep your energy up?

Honestly, I get energised doing the show! It's a thrill, and a privilege to meet a new person on stage each night, to get to know them, and to engage in 'make-believe'....but also, I take a lot of naps!

When you're not performing, what are you planning to do with your time in Edinburgh?

We have found a tiny pub near our housing...and the locals there have been extremely welcoming - we'll be there in our down time having a pint (or two). We also want to do a few touristy things - the castle, Arthur's Seat.

I also have family coming down from Aberdeen - a cousin, uncle and aunt that I've never met! My great-grandparents on my Mom's side were both Scottish (Miller), so very much looking forward to connecting with my roots!