Rebecca Northan has created another theatrical delight with her new play Undercover.
You may be familiar with her previous and wildly popular show Blind Date, which also had a run at the Tarragon, where she played in clown and picked an audience member to be her blind date and then proceeded to improvise a full production with the audience member. Undercover has a similar set up with an expanded cast which includes co-creator Bruce Horak. The cast also includes her improv mentor, her brother and a few of her close friends.
These folks have a long history together and because of that there is a comfort in the work, a dynamic chemistry and a lovely sense of intimacy. Some of my favourite bits were when the actors cracked each other up and then had to get back on track; it had a very Carol Burnett vibe to it.
If an audience member is interested in getting pulled on stage, they can approach a cast member milling in the lobby before the start of the show. The troupe only selects willing participants. The framework of the piece is important but the play is adaptable depending on what way the audience members drives various scenes. The premise is the selected audience member is a rookie detective, his first night on the job. His first duty is to attend an art auction and get the dirt on some undesirables. A murder takes place and the rookie cop has to try to get to the bottom of it.
It is so wonderful to see an audience member getting thrown into the mix and have the experienced cast filled with solid improvisers take care of him. The show has multiple endings and the cast changes the ending according to which way the audience member’s investigation goes.
Northan has decided to explore such an amazing side of theatre. Fusing improv, script, play and for some adventurous spirits that come as an audience member, a few hours to shine in the stage lights. What a delight!