The neighborhood is changing – condos are being built, Walmart is coming – and so must the Kims. Do they sell out or carry on the family business? Who will save the day?
Kim’s Convenience explores the complex interpersonal dynamics of the Kims, a Korean family running a corner store in Toronto. As immigrant or entrepreneur families will relate, feelings of obligation and guilt run deep. Appa (the dad played by James Yi) wants someone to carry on the business, but his daughter Janet (Brianna Kim) has no desire to keep shop, and his estranged son hasn’t spoken to him in years. Personal sacrifices are brought to light while Appa struggles with the idea of losing his legacy, but in the end, love prevails.
Humor is artfully interwoven with deeper themes to break the tension. During a particularly heated argument, 30 year old Janet (Brianna Kim) who is still “single and ready to mingle” calculates all she is owed for helping out at the store four hours a day, six days a week. Appa doesn’t miss a beat and itemizes the cost of piano lessons, summer camps, clothes, and basically everything a parent provides. He ends up asking what the f*ck else he can give her and Janet says “my day planner” (which he has been holding hostage until she takes the trash out).
Whether you’re familiar with the award-winning Kim’s Convenience TV series or not (I’m in the latter camp), you will connect with the characters while laughing and crying with them – but mostly laughing. Appa’s super racist lesson on identifying shoplifters, obsession with illegally parked Japanese cars, and Janet’s clever way of besting her dad when he tries to get the last word are downright hilarious. Fun fact: Kim’s Convenience was originally written for the stage by Ins Choi in 2011, and later made into a TV show!
The talented ensemble also includes Maki Yi as Umma (Mom); Howie Lai as Jung, the estranged son; and Devon Alexander who wears many hats: Rich, Mr.Lee (Appa’s “black friend with the Korean last name), Mike, and Alex. Yi and Lai have a tender exchange at church, reminiscing about better days before the family was broken. Alexander does a great job of balancing various roles but really shines as Alex, the police officer smitten with Janet.
Fantastic dialogue and acting make Kim’s Convenience a must-see this spring! Viewers of all generations and backgrounds will relate to the struggles between parent and child, struggles that are not always easily resolved (but are so satisfying when they are).
For Tickets and More Information
Kim’s Convenience runs from April 13 – May 1, 2022 at Martha Cohen Theatre (215 8 Ave. SE, Calgary).
Get tickets from www.albertatheatreprojects.com or 403-294-7402. “Recommended for ages 12+ for mature themes and some strong language.”