Foojan Nixie Shabrang
Photo Paulina Vega Carrillo

Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre and Medusa Theatre
Parifam by Aki Yaghoubi

When & Where April 4 – 14, 2024; evenings at 7:30pm, matinees on Sat & Sun at 2pm | The Cultch Historic Theatre, 1895 Venables Street

Director Panthea Vetandoost Costume Design Elika Mojtabaei Lighting Design Jonathan Kim Projection Design Joel Grinke Sound Design and Composer Ruby Singh Stage Managers Jessica Bournival & Evan Ren

Reviewer Shakeela Begum

In a compelling collaboration between Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre (vAct) and Medusa Theatre Society (MTS), Parifam emerges as a touching narrative that delves deep into the complexities of relationships, memory, and cultural identity. Playwright Aki Yaghoubi, alongside director Panthea Vatandoost, crafts a world that resonates with the heartache and power of revisiting the past.

The play centres around Parifam Mana, portrayed by Foojan Nixie Shabrang, who finds comfort in her Montreal studio, a refuge where her memories and muses intermingle. The return of her childhood friend Ramak, played by Nazanin Shoja, unfolds a tapestry of concealed truths that challenge their understanding of friendship and shared history.

The cast, including Donia Kash, Alex Shirdel, Craig Erickson, Arsham Farasat, and Mehdi Darvish, enriches the narrative with performances that are both tender and powerful, echoing the play’s exploration of identity and belonging.

Parifam is visually stunning, thanks to the artistic vision of set and co-props designer Parjad Sharifi and costume designer Elika Mojtabaei. The lighting by Jonathan Kim and projections by Joel Grinke complement the mood, while Ruby Singh's sound design and Megan Lane’s co-props add layers of emotional depth.

The direction of intimacy by Sam Jeffery is handled with sensitivity, allowing the characters’ vulnerabilities to shine through in a space of safety and authenticity.

The play is a heartfelt reminder of the power of art to confront and embrace our past. It invites the audience on a journey of reflection and understanding, encouraging a compassionate look at the ties that bind us to our culture and to each other. The play lingers, prompting questions about our own hidden truths, the imprints they leave on our identity, the untold stories and the memories we choose to paint in the galleries of our minds.

Experiencing the weight of the main character's emotions in the first hour was particularly intense, highlighting the strength of storytelling in capturing the heaviness of life's unresolved chapters. This play is a beautiful testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the unbreakable ties that connect us to our heritage and to one another.

© 2024 Shakeela Begum