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Buffoon: Read this review and watch the show (not necessarily in that order)

by | Oct 29, 2020 | Review | 0 comments

illustrates review of a play called Buffoon

Andrew McNee is performing with a broken arm. (Photo by Moonrider Productions)

It’s story time. And you could hardly ask for better storytellers than playwright Anosh Irani and actor Andrew McNee. (McNee and Kayvon Khoshkam are alternating in this solo show.)

“Look, I don’t know why you’re here,” is one of the first things that the guy we’ll come to know as Felix says to us. Then he spins a fantastic world. He was born into the circus to trapeze artists The Flying Olga and The Great Frank. But Olga didn’t know how to love Felix and Frank was constantly heartbroken, so their son spent a lot of time with Smile, the ticket taker.

Felix is subject to possession. When Smile introduces him to books, words take hold of him and he has to spit them out: “Catastrophic! Apoplectic!” And, when Felix tells us about falling in love when he was seven, Irani gives him poetry: “I walk toward her carrying everything that is gentle inside me.” Years later, when Felix finally allows his love to kiss him, he tells us, “When she leads the way, it’s more than a kiss. It’s the entire continent of heaven.”

But it’s hard to love when you haven’t been properly loved. So Buffoon is a dark play — with humour. Twisted by abandonment, Felix can’t stand kids. “Children don’t like ice cream,” he tells us. “They just like licking something cold like the devil does in hell.”

McNee is also possessed, spinning through a memory bank of characters, always completely committed. And that commitment brings extraordinary focus to his work. I still feel like I have a retinal after-image of Felix’s face when we first see it, covered in clown white that fades to skin tones around his terrified eyes. At least five distinct accents and postures. Impeccable timing and inventiveness. Depth of feeling.

Amir Ofek’s set is a gorgeously sculptural box in forced perspective. Itai Erdal’s lighting seduces us with summer night and bangs us with fluorescence. Joelysa Pankanea’s composition and sound design supports the emotional moods as subtly as water.

Irani’s script is a delight — and a heartbreaker. Under Lois Anderson’s direction, this Arts Club production is impeccable.

BUFFOON By Anosh Irani. Directed by Lois Anderson. An Arts Club production the Arts Club’s Granville Island Stage. On Wednesday, October 28. Runs until December 6. Here’s where to get tickets for the theatre ($39), the livestream ($29), and the recorded stream ($19).


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