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Marie Brassard dares to dream

Posted by Carolyn / November 26, 2009

Jimmy-Simon Guilbault.jpg

What do a homosexual hairdresser, a dead crow, an awkward dance number to 80s synth-ballad "Love Hurts," and fish-petting have in common? Nothing--unless you're part of the audience at Marie Brassard's one-woman show Jimmy, a theatrical journey through Dali-esque dreamscapes in which identities are fluid and events are utterly random.

Written, directed and performed by Quebec actress Marie Brassard--who plays the eponymous gay hairdresser-turned-androgynous-creature--Jimmy leads the audience through a bizarre set of dreams which Jimmy describes to us in the form of a genderless creature with long, thick black hair and a suit.

"I was born in a dream at the age of 33," Jimmy tells us at the beginning of the performance. Everything that follows is equally if not more nonsensical. We learn that Jimmy is a homosexual hairdresser who came to life in the dream of a homophobic American general in the 1950s. In his salon, Jimmy meets Mitchell--a soldier with whom he falls deeply in love. When Jimmy is about to kiss Mitchell for the first time, the general's heart stops beating and Jimmy is left suspended and frozen in a moment of absolute pleasure.

50 years later Jimmy comes to life again, this time imprisoned in the dreams of a Montreal actress who falls in love with him. In her absurd, meandering dreams he is transformed into a genderless creature. Jimmy seeks to escape the confines of these dreams so he can find his way back to his lost love. The moral of the story is that happiness is only possible in a dream state--and after an hour and a half of listening to Brassard's creepily edited voice through a microphone which distorts it to several octaves lower, I could at least agree that happiness was not possible being part of her audience.

Brassard's usage of innovative tactics to meta-comment on theatre itself--such as a technical "glinch" to manipulate the audience's emotions--provide thought-provoking insight on the dynamics of performance. The performance's attempts to grapple with deep questions on identity and mortality, however--"I asked her if she was afraid of death"--are obscured by the tediously lengthy and bizarre dream-descriptions which comprise the bulk of the show. While Brassard's acting skill is impressive, Jimmy fails to provide a suitable platform for her talent.

Playing until November 29 at the Centaur Theatre (453 St. François-Xavier).

Photo by Simon Giulbault.



E / November 26, 2009 at 02:28 pm
I saw this performance and found it thoroughly unenjoyable.

The use of digital effects on Brassards voice made me feel like I was hearing Akon channel the holocaust.
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