Kim’s Convenience – Theatre Review

The play takes place during one day in Kim’s Convenience Store, located in the Regent Park section of Toronto, which is being developed. The store was opened many years ago by Mr. Kim, who left his teaching job in Korea and immigrated to Canada with his wife.  One day, a former customer visits and offers Mr Kim a large sum of money (we don’t know how much) for his store, telling Mr. Kim that this could insure his future, as Walmart is thinking of moving in, which would devastate Mr. Kim’s business. 

Mr. Kim refuses the offer, and the customer’s parting question to him – “What is your exit plan?” – spurs the action of the play, as Mr. Kim now has to confront the existential dilemma of his legacy; not only his store’s future, but also his relationship with his children:  Janet, a 30 year-old photographer who is still single, and Jung, his 32 year old son who left home at 16 and hasn’t been back since.

Even though the play is centered around an immigrant family, its themes are universal, touching on our relationships with the people around us – neighbors, customers, friends as well as family members, and questions such as, How do we pass on life’s lessons to the next generation?  How do we let go?

The play illustrates the ways in which we do or don’t communicate our expectations of one another to each other, and like many in the audience, including me, you may find a tear running down your cheek at some point… There’s an especially moving scene when Janet uses the adding machine to calculate the dollar value of the “free labor” she’s put in at the store over the years, and her father parries back with the cost of school, piano lessons, camp….

The play runs for 85 minutes – a perfect length – and alternates between the comedic and the dramatic, keeping the piece from getting maudlin, and moving it along nicely.  The playwright, Ins Choi, has a good ear for the way people really talk (he’s also an excellent actor) , and the cast of five is very strong, keeping you engaged all the way through.

The play closes on July 15th;  see it before it leaves.  

More information on Soulpepper’s website

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