Ticketmaster Summer in Stages

Jimmy

Marie Brassard
Barbican Pit
(2004)

Marie Brassard in Jimmy

French-Canadian actress, Marie Brassard has written, directed and performs in this unusual solo show.

She is best known in the United Kingdom for her work with one of the world's best directors, the Canadian Robert Lepage. Over the years, she has appeared in several of his plays and films including, perhaps most notably, The Seven Streams of the River Ota. Judging by Jimmy, she has obviously soaked up some of Lepage's avant garde originality.

Jimmy is not so much a dreamer, as the dreamed. Much to his frustration, he flits through other's dreams, taking on new lives and looks, at their whim.

He starts off as a fantasy of a Korean-bound US general in the 1950s. The closeted soldier dreams himself up a homosexual hairdresser - Jimmy - who then takes on a kind of life of his own.

Jimmy is lucky enough to spend 50 years in suspended bliss, as the General keels over, stone-cold dead at the moment that Jimmy is about to share a first kiss with his putative love, Mitchell.

He reappears in the dreams of a Montreal actress who cannot stop him from metamorphosing into her mother, not to mention Elton John, Andy Warhol and Yves Montand.

Jimmy the play is really a kaleidoscopic vision of loneliness and the eternal quest for love. This is viewed from odd angles with quirky humour.

Marie Brassard is a talented performer and as Jimmy, she uses unusual technology. She speaks into a microphone that converts her voice into difference timbres, depending upon which incarnation of Jimmy she is playing. These vary between the child and the male adult and also move into the maternal female.

It could be argued that the use of voice manipulation technology is cheating. Other actors obtain similar results using no more than their own vocal cords.

It is always good to see overseas imports into BITE seasons and Marie Brassard is offering something that cannot be found elsewhere. However, while Jimmy can be moving and is sometimes funny, this quirky little play, which has toured the world over the last three years, seems little more.

Reviewer: Philip Fisher