Ins Choi has something great in store for Soulpepper audiences this season
Written by Ins Choi
Directed by Weyni Mengesha
Ins Choi in Kim’s Convenience. Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann.
After a hit run at the 2011 Toronto Fringe Festival, Ins Choi’s Kim’s Convenience opened Soulpepper’s 15th anniversary season Thursday night to triumphant acclaim from audiences and critics alike.
The Soulpepper Academy alumnus’ debut play tells the story of a Regent Park convenience store run by the larger-than-life Mr. Kim, or Appa (father). Ken MacKenzie’s authentic set design recreates the look and feel of your typical neighbourhood corner store, right down to the lottery tickets, cigarettes and ginseng.
Mr. Kim (played by the hilarious and powerful Paul Sun-Hyung Lee) argues with customers in broken English, nags his 30-year-old daughter, Janet (the clever and comical Esther Jun), and proudly defends his Korean heritage against comparisons to the Japanese. He is king of his own little empire.
But when Mr. Kim is offered a large sum of money for the property, the store’s future comes into question and he must choose between a comfortable retirement and the legacy of Kim’s Convenience. The business is his “dynasty,” and he dreams that one of his children will take over. Although, Janet, a photographer, has no interest in running the store, and his estranged son, Jung (Choi), left home after a fight and hasn’t spoken to him for 15 years.
In 85 minutes, a highly entertaining and moving family drama unfolds: Janet fights for independence and acknowledgement from her father, who meddles with every aspect of her life, including a budding romance with her childhood friend Alex (a wonderfully versatile Cle Bennett, who also plays three other characters in the show); Mrs. Kim or Umma (Jean Yoo), meets with her son at church and reminisces about the good old days; and eventually, an unhappy Jung, now a father himself, returns to the family store to make amends.
Under director Weyni Mengesha, the five cast members give deeply committed performances, bringing this poignant immigrant story to life with real emotion and respect for the generations of people who sacrificed their lives to give their children a better future.
Don’t miss your chance to see this outstanding Toronto play. Tickets are selling out fast!
Kim’s Convenience runs until February 11, 2012. Visit soulpepper.ca for more information and to buy tickets.