Synopsis (with spoilers!)
By Anosh Irani
Felix, a clown in his 40s in chalk makeup, addresses the audience from a prison cell. As he looks at his right hand, his body contracts and he is seized by a memory, that of his birth in the circus to trapezist parents, The Flying Olga and The Great Frank.
Olga gives birth to Felix in a bathtub on circus grounds. She complains to Frank that Felix is a child she did not want to have, hoping for fame instead. As both parents neglect him while they perform, he is raised by the ticket seller, Smile, who introduces him to literature.
As Felix reads, waves of language rush forth and words bubble to his mouth. He is electrified by this coursing of words. Olga makes him cry by suggesting she's not his mama, struggling to come into the role as she tries comforting him.
Through Olga's cigarette smoke, Felix sees a girl in a stack of hay, Aja, the 8-year-old daughter of a seamstress, and falls in love with her. Smile tells him he is now sick with "Lovearia."
Felix goes to Aja to give her his heart, but sees her kissing the tentmaker's son and drops it. Smile puts his broken heart in a glass of wine and asks him to drink to feel better. Later, when Aja develops chicken pox, Felix risks contagion to be with her.
Olga hires a rival trapezist, The Great Gagoonda, to be a part of her act. Jealous, Frank sets their circus on fire before demanding to perform with her. At practice, Frank is injured from a fall.
Felix learns to convert his pain and heartache into comedy; having developed a successful comic routine from his buffoonery, he goes celebrating his birthday at a mansion Smile takes him and Aja to. There, Smile receives a letter from “home.” He is faced with a tough decision. To stay with Felix or to leave.
Five years pass and Aja becomes pregnant; Felix strongly opposes due to his childhood abandonment, but their baby changes his mind. Will he be able to be a good father? Will Aja still love him or will she love the child more?