Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

Kayvon Khoshkam in a scene from Buffoon.

Mark Halliday/Handout

  • Title: Buffoon
  • Written by: Anosh Irani
  • Director: Lois Anderson
  • Actors: Kayvon Khoshkam alternating with Andrew McNee
  • Company: The Arts Club Theatre Company
  • Venue: Granville Island Stage
  • City: Vancouver

rating

3.5 out of 4 stars

You walk into the theatre to find a single chair on the stage – metal, silver, simple. Today, though, your attention is trained on the other seats, those facing it, one of which you are about to occupy. You are back at Vancouver’s beloved Granville Island Stage. Shuttered since March, it is open again, its seats physically distanced and sparsely filled with a very friendly opening night (well, afternoon) crowd. Many in the audience know each other. It feels festive, like a reunion. “Everybody’s here!” someone says, through a mask. “So happy to see you!”

Theatre in COVID-19 times.

The lights go down. When they come back up, a man in a beige jumpsuit with a white face cowers in a corner of the off-kilter set. If the white makeup (it’s chalk, he tells us) suggests a clown, things don’t appear to be very funny.

Story continues below advertisement

As this character – whose name, we will learn, is Felix – addresses his audience, his shadow looms large on the back wall of the clever set. “To be honest, I don’t have much to say,” he announces.

Actually, he does.

Khoshkam transforms from Felix to the people in his orbit with a mobility and depth that astonish.

Mark Halliday/Handout

What are we in for? Over 80 minutes, with the performance of one actor – Kayvon Khoshkam, at the show I saw – Amir Ofek’s cleverly claustrophobic set turns into a whole world: an epic tale of love and betrayal, triumph and loss, connection and abandonment – the human story.

There is almost nothing I want to tell you about Buffoon, which opened at the Arts Club Theatre Company in Vancouver on Oct. 28, because one of the things I most enjoyed about my afternoon was the ride: taking a trip to and through the unknown, steered by a multilayered script and a magnificent performance.

Buffoon, a one-person, one-act play, is written by the Vancouver-based novelist and playwright Anosh Irani. Last season’s premiere production at Toronto’s Tarragon Theatre won two Dora Mavor Moore Awards, including the Dora for outstanding new play. And it’s no wonder.

We sort of know where we’re going in this story of young Felix, which traces his life from the day he was born in the circus to the present, but the play takes twists and turns through life’s ups and downs that are mostly surprising and always entertaining. And after a bit of hesitation in the opening minutes, I was all in, fully immersed in this world.

Khoshkam transforms from Felix to the people in his orbit with a mobility and depth that astonish. (At alternating performances, the part is played by Andrew McNee, with cast and crew rehearsing and performing separately in COVID-safe bubbles.)

Story continues below advertisement

At alternating performances, Felix's part is played by Andrew McNee.

Handout

There are harsh life lessons here. Being born into applause is no substitute for being born into loving arms. And, as Felix notes, “something wonderful is always followed by something else.”

Itai Erdal’s lighting is a mood-setter and a metaphor, creating giant shadows – how big we can become, how dark – and transforming the theatre into these many worlds: a circus tent; a stark, isolated room; that intoxicating bubble we enter when we fall in love. Joelysa Pankanea’s sound design contributes to the magic.

This is what I have missed so much, the great potential of theatre: One small stage, one performer, a subtle soundtrack and we are transformed, taken somewhere grand and horrible without ever leaving the room, and doing it together – if at a safe distance. How one person on a stage with a good script and smart creative team behind him can bring a world to us as we sit back and take it in. How did I ever take this for granted?

Returning to the stage for a second bow to a warm standing ovation, Khoshkam flexed his muscles, strongman-style and triumphantly yelled “Theatre!” The show must go on – and it does.

Buffoon is at the Granville Island Stage until Dec. 6. Tickets can also be purchased to view it online through a recorded stream.

Keep up to date with the weekly Nestruck on Theatre newsletter. Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies