Theater archives

Jimmy, in which a Phantom Is Forced to Become Yves Montand


Jimmy, a “homosexual hairdresser,” is a dream of a man. Literally. An American general first conjures him during a snooze in 1950—later, after the general’s death, Jimmy spends half a century suspended in limbo, before appearing again in the nighttime fantasies of a French-Canadian actress. Against his will, he’s forced to ride in an airplane, visit a pet shop, become Yves Montand, even share his body with someone else’s dead mother. Worst of all, homosexual Jimmy has to smooch a girl: “I was disgusted,” he says. “It really made me sick.”

French-Canadian actress Marie Brassard created Jimmy after spending two years journaling her dreams. A body mic and a bit of technical wizardry allow her to engage in a sort of vocal drag: When speaking as Jimmy, her voice sounds several octaves lower—a maneuver redolent of performances by Karen Finley and Laurie Anderson. If the script is rather precious, it’s diverting to see the womanly, black-haired actress play the role of blond Jimmy and hear her voice changed into his. While Jimmy is hostage to the dreamer’s whims, Brassard is free to become whomever she chooses.