Kim’s Convenience ★★★★ Park Theatre | Jan 8 - Feb 10, 2024

Before it was a Netflix hit, Kim's Convenience was a fringe show that charmed audiences with its portrayal of an immigrant Korean family who comes to Canada and starts their new life in a convenience store. This revival of the theatrical version hits all the notes of the television series and should delight long term fans while giving new customers a sampling of what they've been missing. The themes of immigrant culture shock and intergenerational incomprehension are touchingly explored as Writer Ins Choi takes on the role of Appa, the irascible patriarch of the clan. The stage simply lights up whenever Choi appears, and Appa's quirks and prejudices are hilariously rendered as he negotiates his way in a new society. His lecture on shoplifters and the focus of his concern about illegally parked cars has the audience roaring. Appa's clinging to old prejudices and patriarchal authority in the face of the new world he is dealing with is made both amusing and touching. His struggles to come to terms with a daughter who wants to follow a career as a photographer, rather than take over the shop, and an estranged son who has forsaken the virtue filial piety are presented with humour and sympathy. As daughter, Janet, who rebels against her father's worldview and yet also submits to it, Jennifer Kim is both convincing and engaging. Miles Mitchell also does a fine job in a variety of roles. Unfortunately, the parts of son, Jung, played by Brian Law and wife, Umma, played by Namju Go feel underdeveloped. The whole reconciliation storyline also seems rather truncated. In fact, that is our main quibble with this show. But, maybe that's always the issue with a convenience store: one can get what one needs to tide oneself over, but for a full shop you need to go elsewhere. Fortunately, there are several seasons of Kim's Convenience on Netflix.

Rated: ★★★★

Reviewed by J.C.
Photo by Mark Douet

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