On Sunday, I joined a sold-out house for the production of Kim’s Convenience. Mr. Kim, played by actor Paul Sun-Hyung Lee, is a convenience store owner in Regent Park who is trying to decide whether or not to sell his business so that he can retire. Lee, who is often recognized from Train 48, is very funny and puts on a great fatherly Korean accent. The show revolves around him and his family.
Jean Yoon’s performance as Mrs. Kim is heartbreaking and beautiful. Esther Jun plays the daughter with bounce and a light heart. Andre Sills plays several distinct roles in this play smartly and with thoughtfulness. Ins Choi, who plays the son, acts with honesty and idealism. This cast is talented, to say the least. The cultural and intergenerational dialogue helps showcase their unique approaches to acting.
It is difficult to be objective about this play because it hits home in many ways. As a daughter I related to the expectations placed on Mr. Kim’s children. As an Asian-Canadian person living in Toronto I connected with the stories, the Toronto references (like Korean Grill House), and the family’s hope for the Canadian Dream. As an individual I became emotionally overcome with the play’s themes about choices and love.
In essence, Ins Choi’s script is not realistic. It is real. His own life experience has shaped the scenes of this play into little perfect moments. He is a talented playwright who is able to capture life through theatre with authenticity and elegance.
This show is mostly funny, surprisingly educational, and also touching. At several points during the performance I admittedly cried; when a play feels like a mirror holding itself up in front of you, that happens, and it happened when I watched this show. The depth of the writing, the acting skill of the cast, and the locality of the setting makes this my favourite Fringe show of the year. A standing ovation was received at the end of their Sunday performance.
I implore the Korean community to watch this show and contribute to the stories Ins Choi has begun to document for them.
Kim’s Convenience has been much praised about by theatregoers and critics alike. It was winner of the 2011 Toronto Fringe New Play Contest and is rumored to be a top Fringe contender for being picked up by Mirvish to run a full production. I hope it will be, because that means the entire Toronto community will get to enjoy Kim’s Convenience.
Director: Ins Choi
Cast: Ins Choi, Esther Jun, Paul Sun-Hyung Lee, Andre Sills, Jean Yoon
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Warning: Mature Language
Venue 3, Bathurst Street Theatre
Wed, July 6 6:30 PM 301
Fri, July 8 10:30 PM 312
Sun, July 10 1:15 PM 320
Mon, July 11 8:15 PM 330
Tue, July 12 1:00 PM 332
Fri, July 15 5:15 PM 355
Sun, July 17 7:00 PM 370
– All individual Fringe tickets are $10 ($5 for FringeKids) at the door (cash only). Tickets are available online at www.fringetoronto.com, by phone at 416-966-1062, in person at The Randolph Centre for the Arts, 736 Bathurst Street (Advance tickets are $11 – $10+$1 convenience fee)
– Several money-saving passes are available if you plan to see at least 5 shows