Aubergine
Closed 2h 10m
Aubergine
78

Aubergine NYC Reviews and Tickets

78%
(163 Reviews)
Positive
83%
Mixed
14%
Negative
3%
Members say
Great acting, Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Resonant, Intelligent

About the Show

Playwrights Horizons presents the NYC premiere of Julia Cho's new play, a mediation on family, loss, and the expressive power of preparing a meal.

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Member Reviews (163)

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91
Absorbing, Enchanting, Great acting, Riveting

See it if So moving. Sweet, raw, touching, personal. The actors were so good! Recommend highly.

Don't see it if You can't handle emotional works or works that explore death.

84
Great acting, Great writing, Intelligent, Resonant, Slow

See it if Thoughful, moving work on loss (particuliarly a parent) and an after-life. Cho's best work as playwright; fluid direction & acting

Don't see it if Recent loss of someone close or a hospice journey. Bothered by deliberate (slow) story development & pacing. Multiple endings saddle finish

Critic Reviews (31)

The New York Times
September 12th, 2016

"A sensitive but sometimes sluggish drama...There’s a languidness to the proceedings that had me slipping down in my chair...Sadness and frustration can make for a less than enthralling evening of theater. Nor is 'Aubergine' wholly free of a preciousness that got under my skin...The monologues that pepper the text can be more disruptive than engaging, despite the excellent acting...Your affection for 'Aubergine' may fundamentally come down to how sentimental you are about food."
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Time Out New York
September 12th, 2016

"Cho’s concept is savory enough to sustain the audience for most of the play. But the focus on sense and memory gets repetitious, and much of the play is lumpy: Flashbacks seem horned in, the denouement stumbles, and the writing becomes explanatory...Depending on your taste, the play’s dusting of magical realism may give Aubergine a pleasant zest. To me, it felt like the showy seasoning of a chef who doesn’t trust her ingredients."
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New York Magazine / Vulture
September 12th, 2016

"Julio Cho writes in a program note about the way food attaches to memory, and vice versa. Unfortunately, the play itself does not so much demonstrate this connection as state it over and over: a recipe for dramatic starvation. It’s a curious botch, full of intelligence and watchfulness but almost entirely lacking in propulsion...'Aubergine' is all points and no play...Were it not for some very fine actors doing careful detail work, you would really have nothing to watch."
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The Hollywood Reporter
September 12th, 2016

"A moving meditation on love, loss, and the emotional power of food...The structurally ragged drama includes several lengthy monologues that slow down the narrative momentum...But for all its flaws, 'Aubergine' has a deeply felt emotionality, beautifully rendered in Kate Whoriskey's sensitive direction and the ensemble's excellent performances. Anyone who's ever shared a quiet late-night meal with a loved one, especially one who's no longer here, will find much to relate to."
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Variety
September 12th, 2016

"'Aubergine,' a new play by Julia Cho, poses a unique challenge. The language is lovely, the dramatic structure is impressive and the polished Playwrights Horizons production directed by Kate Whoriskey is impeccable. But the play itself is a somber meditation on death and, as such, as relentlessly depressing as a three-day wake."
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Theatermania
September 12th, 2016

"At times, the play is insightful and moving, although Cho could make it even more so by taking a meat cleaver to all the fat...While director Kate Whoriskey has led the cast to credible performances of highly specific characters, the design is a lot more aimless... Between the smart acting, thoughtful prose, and underwhelming production, 'Aubergine' is the theatrical equivalent of a functional yet unmemorable meal: It might fill you up, but it is entirely devoid of flavor."
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BroadwayWorld
September 14th, 2016

"‘Aubergine,’ a light drama full of sweetness and warmth, explores that connection between food and emotions in a tale about a chef who, in the midst of tragedy, seems to have lost his magical knack for making things better with his culinary creations…While the subject of death is always present, Cho and director Kate Whoriskey do a fine job of sustaining a sense of comfort and humor…‘Aubergine’ may make you hungry for a post-performance snack, but it's certainly satisfying theatre."
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Lighting & Sound America
September 13th, 2016

"For a play about the salubrious effects of good food, 'Aubergine' could use a little spicing up…It's not bad, but it's certainly not flavorful…A certain falsity sets in, and it is never fully dispelled…’Aubergine’ has a fair number of funny, perceptive, and touching aspects, but, ultimately, it feels too polite, too obviously calculated to provide a sense of uplift, too determined to scrub its central situation of anything too ugly or disturbing. Real life is messier than this."
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Talkin' Broadway
September 12th, 2016

"Cho's beautiful and immensely sensitive new play...There's so much to chew on here that the occasional misstep barely registers. From family to faith to redemption to, of course, food, Cho deconstructs and dissects every conceivable element of who we are and how we got here until she has painted a sprawling portrait of humanity from the inside out...It's way more than interesting—it's one of the most gorgeous and unforgettable plays of the year."
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TheaterScene.net
September 13th, 2016

"An engaging and universal work that unevenly blends reality with mysticism. The characters are all very well delineated and the dialogue is flavorful and realistic… Repetitiveness and a preoccupation with profundity sidetrack its effectiveness…Director Kate Whoriskey realizes ‘Aubergine’s’ dramatic potential with her steady staging and the sensitive and compelling performances of the cast…’Aubergine’s’ unnecessary lapses into grandiosity ultimately do not mar its achievements."
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Theater Pizzazz
September 12th, 2016

"Red alert! There’s an energy drain at Playwrights Horizons, where Julia Cho’s 'Aubergine' is currently in residence, and no one seems to know how to stop it. True, the play deals with dying, so a certain amount of lethargy is to be expected. But even death can be a catalyst for action, and director Kate Whoriskey hasn’t figured out how to get a charge from it or the play’s other themes...Whoriskey’s direction is competent but not inspired."
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CurtainUp
September 12th, 2016

"A situation in which a dying, comatose man is center stage during most of the play isn't exactly the stuff of must-see dramas, but Kate Whoriskey directs sensitively and without rushing things. She draws equally sensitive performances from the six actors...A flaw that can't be reasoned away is that the playwright has overstuffed 'Aubergine's' menu. She makes her points too often and for too long which tends to rob the experience of a good deal of its flavor and energy."
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Stage Buddy
September 24th, 2016

"Julia Cho’s touching play has all the elements of comfort food: it’s a work that knows when to touch what button without being obvious or heavy-handed. The playwright expertly weaves in cultural elements without ever exoticizing the characters...Anchored by Kang’s sober, stoic performance, 'Aubergine,' only lags during its second act...Cho, and director Kate Whoriskey, stir their stew calmly, allowing the flavors to be released only as they chose to reveal themselves."
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Front Mezz Junkies
September 12th, 2016

"There’s plenty of magic simmering away at Playwrights Horizons with Julia Cho’s new play. Food, memories, attachments, and parent/child dynamics play powerful ingredients in this deeply felt piece, directed impeccably by Kate Whoriskey. It fills the theatrical air with such love and magic, but also with a taste of deep sadness and longing...A thoughtful and beautifully crafted play that takes us all, regardless of cultural upbringing, through a journey of familiar love and loss."
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Exeunt Magazine
September 16th, 2016

"While the device can, at times, seem a bit contrived, strong performances and sensitive direction keep the play down to earth...Ultimately, Cho’s talent for tying narrative bows means that she occasionally leaves less room for ambiguity than 'Aubergine' probably needs. And the inclination to consistently resolve those threads through the lens of food can sometimes verge on the pat...But all told, 'Aubergine' is rarely over-sweet, and includes much to savor."
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New York Theater
September 12th, 2016

"In 'Aubergine,' an appealing, lyrical family drama, life boils down to two essentials: food and death...The way that Diane eventually features in the main story helps invest Cho’s play with a lovely magical realism...Cho’s play isn’t strictly realistic. although the acting is all low-key and convincing...At one point, Lucien gives Ray a gift of an eggplant...but calls it an aubergine....'That starts to approach the beauty of the thing itself.' As with aubergine, so with 'Aubergine.'"
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Broadway Blog
September 13th, 2016

“Unfortunately, there’s not quite enough meat on ‘Aubergine’s' bones to fill out its over two hours’ traffic on the stage; toward the end, the conclusion seems ever more elusive. It proceeds from brief episode to brief episode but rarely comes to a boil, the most intense moment coming just before intermission...‘Aubergine’ is the uncommon word for a common vegetable, eggplant. In her play, Julia Cho also has made something uncommon out of the common.”
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C
September 13th, 2016

"Covering all-too-familiar ground, it’s not an altogether satisfying play, but there are many moments where your taste buds will explode with pleasure…As superb as these many monologues are you can’t help but wish that Cho had spent the same amount of time and energy on crafting actual dialogue...From such a seasoned playwright, one expects a four-star, completely fulfilling meal, rather than one that leaves you a little hungry and a bit underwhelmed."
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Times Square Chronicles
September 13th, 2016

"At first the show is a sleeper, but it wakes up in the second act to a profound experience. Part of that has to do with the wonderful Tim Kang...This is one layered, fabulous actor...Here food communicates the emotions, childhood memories, parental disagreements and who these characters really are deep down inside...The cast is strong, especially Mr. Kang. The direction by Kate Whoriskey is disjointed in the first act and much more concise in the second half."
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The Guardian (UK)
September 12th, 2016

"A tender play both incisive and contrived...Under Kate Whoriskey’s direction, scenes are skillful and affecting, cruel and kind. There are wordless pleasures here...But Cho interleaves these insightful scenes with somewhat forced monologues in which each character describes the best meal that he or she has ever eaten. Each of these speeches is elegantly written, but these seem like rather blatant demonstrations of Cho’s skills and concerns rather than vital components of the piece."
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B
September 12th, 2016

"Julia Cho’s new play at Playwrights Horizons is a flawed, uneven work, but it packs an emotional wallop...A common thread that stitches the play together is the important role of food in our memories and family relationships...There are many engaging moments, but they don’t fit together all that well. Some trimming would improve the play, especially dropping the facile ending...Kate Whoriskey’s direction is a bit sluggish at times."
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The Huffington Post
September 12th, 2016

"'Aubergine' is a provocative, emotionally-effective comedy-drama centered around death, family and gastronomy, and totally delectable...The cast is universally strong...This very special play is well guided by director Kate Whoriskey...Cho has more than a dozen productions to her credit...The impressive 'Aubergine' demonstrates that she is a first-class playwright, indeed."
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Broadway & Me
September 24th, 2016

"There are lovely things in this production, including Derek McLane's elegant origami-style set…But I wasn't as taken with the show as much as some others…'Aubergine's' Proustian allusions to the memories food evokes, the connections it reinforces, didn't seem all that fresh to me. And some of the magical realism Cho added seemed a bit forced…Even though this play didn't fully satisfy me, I'm grateful that it was made so easily available for me to taste."
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Newsday
September 13th, 2016

"There are many lovely, moving moments in ‘Aubergine,’ Julia Cho’s exploration of the deep role of food in our memories. Though the results are not as meaningful as the scattered anecdotes and stories, Cho continues to create characters whose originality takes us into rich territory…Director Kate Whoriskey deftly moves the play’s many scenes within a soft-colored set of smooth unfinished wood. Alas, Cho’s insights about food and about death are, too often, done in by banality."
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NorthJersey.com
September 13th, 2016

"Julia Cho attempts the tricky task of weaving together the subjects of food and death. She achieves affecting moments…But, dramatically wobbly, the play doesn't fill out an entire evening…Ranging from goodhearted to morbid, ‘Aubergine’ has the mismatched feel of having been expanded…Running a little over two hours, it feels padded...As it is, it's a play of deeply sympathetic, thoughtful ideas that never manages to become compelling."
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WNBC
September 12th, 2016

"Playwright Cho depicts both Ray’s anxiety and sense of duty in ways that feel remarkably honest: Ray won’t even go for a walk outside, lest he not be present for the moment his father dies...Cho’s notion of centering the play around food as a way of expressing love is potent, though she switches up ingredients in the second act, and a monologue that tries to explain a key element of the father’s personality threatens to unmoor the drama."
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The Associated Press
September 12th, 2016

"What’s for dinner? How about a rich stew of family communication failures, served with a tender side dish of unspoken love spiced with comic seasoning?...The attempt to create a perfect meal to communicate with someone can be fraught with a complex mixture of memories and hopes, which Julia Cho captures beautifully in her new play, 'Aubergine,' directed with delicate precision by Kate Whoriskey. Cho imbues her meditation on family interactions with gentle humor and quiet simplicity."
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New York Theatre Guide
September 12th, 2016

"The show is virtually flawless in almost every regard...With ‘Aubergine,’ Cho has composed an astonishingly beautiful tale that firmly establishes her as a major talent in the pantheon of modern playwrights. Her words present a daunting but rewarding task for the director and cast, who must demonstrate their own virtuosity with every line to properly convey the artistry and heart that unfolds throughout. All of them succeed, and it’s remarkable to behold."
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E
September 12th, 2016

"Julia Cho manages to write a beautiful story about love, loss, and the beauty that comes after. 'Aubergine' is a play that everyone must see!...Tim Kang delivers a flavorful performance. He never leaves the stage...If you are in need of some type of closure, need to feel some sense of home, or in need of some beautiful theatre, make your way to Playwrights Horizons and see 'Aubergine.' Guaranteed to resonate with every generation."
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8asians
September 12th, 2016

"Full of depth, 'Aubergine' is a quiet play in many ways, yet it is incredibly moving. Cho deftly deals with that most human of events–dying and death–without being heavy-handed...I should say too that this is not a depressing play, despite dealing so intimately with death. 'Catharsis' is the word PlaywrightsHorizons’ artistic director uses to describe the feeling. I would call it a kind of fullness, the feeling the audience carries out the door with them."
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Act Three - The Reviews
September 8th, 2016

"Ms. Cho's linkage of food and the memories it evokes gels nicely throughout the play and resonates a message that, despite the discord and frustrations of families and daily life, we should cherish the 'good stuff' always...Ms. Cho's storytelling ability is fantastic. The mood is both somber and recognizable...You will leave the theatre with a sense of finality, a sense of mortality, and possibly a little bit of a renewed sense of life and purpose. Bravo Ms. Cho."
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