Photo Image by Tanja-Tiziana
Blind Date is the first Buddies' show to feature alternating male and female leads. The gay dating version opened last night and the audience couldn’t have been more engaged in a 90-minute show that just flies by. It’s clever, funny as hell and leaves you wondering at the skill of it all. This is a show that you will talk about for a long time.
Here’s the premise. The show opens with a clown, Mathieu, played winningly in the gay version by the handsome David Benjamin Tomlinson, sitting alone at a café table waiting for his date. Date does not show, so Mathieu “goes shopping” in the audience for a replacement who then joins him on stage for the rest of the show to play his date.
In case introverts recoil in horror at the prospect, be aware that the date has been selected beforehand. How? Mathieu mingles with the audience in the lobby pre-show and selects a suitable co–star after they have consented to be part of the show. The audience member is not a plant but is likely not prepared for what happens next.
The show will differ each night. On opening night for the gay date version, the clown was joined by audience member Zia, a game 46 year-old man whom we learn was born in Pakistan and arrived in Toronto via Chicago. In fact we learn much more about Zia as in a sensitive and poignant way Mathieu draws Zia into telling us his real life story, his coming out, his first sexual experience and much more. It is touching, revealing and funny, while still mimicking the getting-to know-you stage of any couple on a first date exploring each other’s possibilities for romance.
The play uses a brilliant construct, a time-out where the two move to the side of the stage and in full view of the audience check-in with each other to discuss how the pretense is going. Zia, for instance, at first quiet and reserved, is told to talk louder and does so, gradually blossoming in the role as himself and becoming increasingly more proactive in constructing scenarios and stage business. In fact Zia turns out to be quite wonderful and we see genuine flirting and affection developing between the two on stage. It is really very, very touching. Meanwhile Mathieu is totally professional in assuring Zia’s comfort, even when Zia is required to do the most outrageous things one can imagine. To tell you what they are will spoil the fun. But yes, clothes come of and yes, there is explicit love-making, but not in the way one might imagine. The action gets even wilder when we leap forward five years and Zia and Mathieu are living together in an open relationship.
To say that this is funny stuff is an understatement. I laughed till I was hoarse. But more than that this is wondrous theatre created spontaneously in real time. David Benjamin Tomlinson is brilliantly skillful not only in portraying a very funny character but how he manages to draw the best out of his selected date in a sensitive, nurturing and respectful way.
Needless to say going on this Blind Date is highly recommended. I defy anyone not to like the funniest, most engaging show I have seen in years. Run, don't walk, to get tickets.
Buddies in Bad Times Theatre presents Blind Date starring Julie Orton or David Benjamin Tomlinson a Spontaneous Theatre Creation by Rebecca Northan in collaboration with Evalyn Parry and Buddies in Bad Times Theatre
Closing Performance: October 9
Runs: Tues-Sat 8pm, Sun 2:30pm (check with theatre for dates for alternating male and female leads)
Tickets: PWYC - $39
Box Office 416-975-8555 or buddiesinbadtimes.com
Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, 12 Alexander Street, Toronto ON