Review: Buffoon (Tarragon Theatre)

Buffoon is a profound, beautiful tragedy with a helping of laughs

Tarragon Theatre is presenting Buffoon, a new play by Anosh Irani, until December 15 – and you owe it to yourself to get a ticket.

It was captivating, emotionally taxing, and downright great.

This self-labelled tragicomedy did indeed offer up some laughs, but I was truly stunned by how its story leapt at every opportunity to take things to new, more depressing depth. The acting is incredible, and the piece stunningly dark.

Buffoon follows the life of Felix the clown, played masterfully by Anand Rajaram. Felix recounts the story of his life to the audience, embodying a host of distinct and memorable characters.

Despite him acting out conversations between these characters, he never managed to confuse me on who was speaking. Rajaram as Felix also delivers some fantastic clowning. Simply put, this was one of the most challenging and well-acted performances I’ve seen in recent memory.

Anosh Irani’s writing, coupled with Rajaram’s performance, left me with incredible sympathy for Felix. As the story progressed, I understood how Felix’s awful circumstances arose from witnessing his trauma. Even when I hated his actions, I could sympathize with him. Through that, Buffoon left an uncomfortable pit in my stomach that has yet to disappear.

The set design is bare and effective. It comes to life with the lighting and sound design by Jason Hand and Thomas Ryder Payne respectively. The tech brings Felix’s tales to life, illuminating a serene night sky or creating a circus with the sounds of laughter and applause. At other times, a low and ominous hum builds the sense of dread and sadness that characterized this show for me.

Buffoon ends on a stunner of a closing line, which left the audience sitting quietly in darkness for a moment. Somebody said “Wow” and we all seemed to breathe a collective sigh of relief before bursting into applause.

  • Buffoon is playing at the Tarragon Theatre Extraspace (30 Bridgman Ave) until December 15, 2019.
  • Showtimes are Tuesday to Saturday at 8:00 pm, with weekend matinees Saturday and Sunday at 2:30 pm.
  • Tickets are $57 with student and senior discounts.
  • Tickets can be purchased online or in person at the box office.
  • Run time is 90 minutes with no intermission.
  • Audience Advisory: This production contains coarse language and mature content.

Photo of Anand Rajaram as Felix, provided by the company. 

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