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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Theatre review: Parifam is brave

Parifam continues as part of The Cultch's Femme Festival through April 14.

Parifam is the first of four plays to be world-premiered at The Cultch’s Femme Festival at the Historic Theatre. It is also the first play that Aki Yaghoubi, its award-winning Iranian Canadian author, has written in English.

Parifam follows the story of an Iranian Montreal architect, Parifam (Foojan Nixie Shabrang), who has created several museums celebrating Iranian culture. When her childhood friend, Ramak (Nazanin Shoja), also Iranian Canadian, re-enters her life to make a documentary about her success, Parifam is forced to address the effects of an early teenage trauma. She does so by painting a series of disturbing art pieces that help her process. These paintings gain significance as the action progresses.

As the past unfolds, we learn that Ramak is also traumatized by that same event that affected Parifam, though for different reasons.

The secrets that are exposed are countered by the honest quest for answers of Parifam’s son, Kian, outstandingly played by Donia Kash. Both the character and actor speak their truth throughout and maintain a healthy energy that lends a refreshing balance and pace to the production.

The deft use of projected video by Joel Grinke onto Parjad Sharifi’s imposing set also adds dimension and enhances Panthea Vatandoost’s sometimes halting direction.

The takeaway from this brave production, recommended for ages 16+, is how honesty, art, forgiveness, love and courage can help overcome trauma.

Parifam by Aki Yaghoubi. Directed by Panthea Vatandoost. A Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre and Medusa Theatre Society co-production. On stage at The Cultch’s Historic Theatre (1895 Venables St, Vancouver) as part of The Cultch’s Femme Festival through April 14. Visit for tickets and information.

Editor’s note (8 April): this review was revised to reflect Parifam as one of four world premieres as part of The Cultch’s 2024 Femme Festival and not five as originally published.

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