Canada's Soulpepper Theatre Company presents a comedy-drama about a Korean-Canadian family making a new life in a corner store in downtown Toronto. More…
In 'Kim's Convenience,' Appa, a Korean immigrant, works hard to support his wife and children with his Toronto convenience store. As he evaluates his future, he faces both a changing neighborhood landscape and the gap between his values and those of his Canada-born children. Part of the Soulpepper on 42nd Street festival.
"Superbly written, beautifully performed and perfectly staged...The situation comedy elements evolve into a moving family drama. In 85 minutes, playwright Ins Choi achieves the supreme goal of The Theater, making an audience laugh while engaging their emotions...Mengesha’s vital staging tenderly realizes the author’s vision with its steady pace and sensitive performances...Like many of the great works of dramatic literature, the power of 'Kim’s Convenience' lies in its polished simplicity." Full Review
"A hilarious, heartwarming and poignant look at the immigrant experience...The play touches upon every emotion that one can endeavor to experience in ninety minutes, all real, all empathetic, all profoundly human. It is in its beautiful humanity that Choi’s work shines and captures our hearts...Choi builds the arc of his conflicts so seamlessly that we are gratified at the natural order of resolution...This production is absolutely must-see smashing." Full Review
"The early scenes are hilarious...Lee is a force of nature as Appa. Simon captures all the right notes for the daughter...There are many objective grounds on which I could find fault, but the play overcame them all with its heartwarming, universal look at the immigrant family experience and intergenerational conflicts. The situations occasionally veer close to sitcom humor and become predictable, but the execution is so flawless that resistance is futile. I had a good time." Full Review
"One of the most endearing and sincere plays I’ve seen in a while...It’s not often a tight-knit family comedy works so wonderfully...Weyni Mengesha’s direction is flawless, allowing her cast to play with power through calculated volume and movement where it matters...While 'Kim’s Convenience' is a joy to experience, its sentimentality (unlike many sitcoms) isn’t overbearing, maintaining that feel-good quality many plays fail to achieve." Full Review
"A beautifully written (and frequently insightful) family dramedy...The production remains fresh and warmly funny with its original cast intact...Choi balances his upbeat view of the relations between Blacks and Asians with a few reminders of the reality of life running a bodega...This is not a weighty play. There is lots of humor in its 90 minutes. The play’s main weakness is the underdeveloped characters of the mother and the son...Nevertheless, the play is worth seeing." Full Review
“Beautifully crafted…A typical but immensely engaging story of first-generation immigrants and their children…This story is universal…It’s profoundly solid ground Choi places these three on with his intricate and simple storytelling and dialogue…It’s real, powerful, funny, and solid, and it is a night at the theater that makes me grateful to Soulpepper for bringing it to New York. In the same way, it feels like it is the perfect time for this tale to be told here in America.” Full Review
"For all the amusing banter and comic physical shtick, this little play has its more serious side and an endearing, tender heartbeat. Best of all, in just 90 minutes, playwright Ins Choi has managed to juggle and satisfactorily connect a number plot strands...Good as all the performances are, the real star is Ken MacKenzie's terrifically detailed recreation of the store...Do take advantage of this chance to see this human comedy in its live and lively original permutation." Full Review
"A funny and poignant play...There is no mention of gentrification, yet it is palpably present in this scenario. In fact, change and cultural/generational differences and misunderstandings are a big part of the humor and heart. The set is fully stocked, all the details of a corner store compactly and intricately laid out. Under Weyni Mengesha’s adroit direction, 'Kim’s Convenience' holds our regard." Full Review
"Its themes are universal, touching on our relationships with the people around us...The play illustrates the ways in which we do or don’t communicate our expectations of one another to each other...The play...alternates between the comedic and the dramatic, keeping the piece from getting maudlin, and moving it along nicely. Choi has a good ear for the way people really talk, and the cast of five is very strong, keeping you engaged all the way through." Full Review
"Handles heavy issues with sharp humor and heart...And unlike the majority of comedies featuring minorities, it feels like the audience is laughing with the Kims, not at them, which is refreshing...It’s not a perfect play...It would be nice for the women to be just a bit more involved...Overall though, 'Kim’s Convenience' is a fantastic and timely play...The gifted cast brings to life Choi’s intelligent play. 'Kim’s Convenience' is thoughtful, heartwarming and gut-bustingly funny all at once." Full Review
“The play, while largely grounded in honest realism, does slip into sit-com shortcuts, including a pat, albeit touching, ending that could perhaps be better earned after a longer and deeper examination of the family at its center…As perfectly embodied by Paul Sun-Hyung Lee, Mr. Kim is a conglomeration of determination, stubbornness, and frustration, all of which the play couches in humor, so that Mr. Kim comes off as a sort of Korean Archie Bunker.” Full Review
“A funny but glib comedy…It offers many laugh lines…‘Kim’s Convenience’ has less in common with any authentic-feeling glimpses into the life of new immigrants than it does with ‘All in the Family’…By the end almost all the conflicts and tensions are resolved, in ways that are more humorous or sentimental than realistic. You laugh, you smile, you might even sigh, but you leave knowing that the happy endings in ‘Kim’s Convenience’ are too convenient to be wholly satisfying.” Full Review
“Sentimental, familiar and generically feel-good…Even if the setup weren’t so rote, Mr. Choi’s script invites déjà vu with dialogue and behavior that work slight variations on hoary comic templates…But something began to shift for me in ‘Kim’s Convenience’ about two-thirds of the way through…This was not just the magic of the fine performances…The play’s questions of gratitude and ingratitude, and its exploration of the equivocal meanings of starting over, no longer felt rote at all.” Full Review
“The play is a well-written episode of a sitcom replete with ethnic, sexist, and racist encumbrances...Under Mengesha’s astute direction, the ensemble cast tackles their characters with a high level of believability…If sitcom is something an audience member likes, then ‘Kim’s Convenience’ works as likable product. If one is looking for something a bit more serious related to generation gaps and cultural conflicts, one might find oneself wondering what all the hooting and hollering is all about.” Full Review
"A hilariously poignant play...Paul Sun-Hyung Lee, as Appa, leads the comedic pack by becoming the central figure of the play’s laughs and drama...Simon is so bright and intelligent on stage...Set designed perfectly by Ken MacKenzie, in this little, variety store, an audience laughed and cried with the fullness of their heart. Hence, Ins Choi deserves all the success of his now sitcom/play because not every writer can give you every clear emotion to humanity. " Full Review
for a previous production "A funny, heartfelt, and timely production...It’s surely impossible not to laugh all the way through, and perhaps shed a tear at the end...Although comedy dominated the tone, this play’s treatment of serious questions always felt true to life...The combination of thoughtful staging, truthful writing, and heartfelt acting make for a winning, not-to-be-missed production. " Full Review
for a previous production "An incredibly poignant work of Canadian theatre that pulls at our hearts while moving all of us through laughter, sadness and tears...MacKenzie’s set design transports us to a veritable re-creation of said convenience store resplendently worn with all of the unhealthy confectionaries along with the basic groceries of living...Ms. Yoon’s performance moves the audience to tears many times." Full Review
for a previous production "They are a hardworking, pragmatic and generous family. There are also rifts in their strong bonds, and these are shown with humour and insight. Paul Sun-Hyung Lee is equal parts hilarious and touching. Maki Yi gives a gorgeous, subtle performance and quietly commands attention whenever she’s on stage...It is a joy to spend an evening in the world of 'Kim’s Convenience.'" Full Review
for a previous production “An enjoyably unfussy production…It has the sensibility of a harmless, feel-good sitcom...But the one-liners and, especially, Sun-Hyung Lee’s playing of them are very funny, so it feels a lot like a superior sitcom. And the big emotional scenes are genuinely affecting, taking it beyond the realms of soap and into the realms of rich, muscular drama…Fans of that show will no doubt get a kick out of seeing its two stars repeating their roles so skilfully in the flesh.” Full Review
for a previous production “The play has a darker, more dramatic slant than the sunny TV show but the humor and the strong sense of place are unchanged. It's a very Toronto piece of theatre and well worth seeing…All the actors do a fine job, balancing comedy and pathos…What I really liked about it is how the play is both stylized and very, very real…The feelings and the relationships and the people are messy and familiar…It's a heartfelt message in a fluffy sweet cocoon.” Full Review
for a previous production "This production successfully uses humor to portray the Canadian immigrant’s struggle, but lacks balance in its story lines and emotional arcs...While the relationship between Appa and Janet is well developed, the story line of Jung’s estrangement from his family, which certainly pulls at our heartstrings, is unfortunately overshadowed...Despite an imbalance in its story lines and the underdevelopment of some characters, 'Kim’s Convenience' is a moving and laugh-out-loud funny story." Full Review
for a previous production "The show extracts laughter from the audience: it is funny, there are consistent jokes and physical humor. And yet, there are things about this show that don’t quite work for me...Mr. Kim goes on quite an emotional journey, a journey that I’m not sure is entirely serviced by the superficial comedy style in which the show is presented. Mr. Kim’s emotional reversal seems a bit too easy, and it’s unclear if that is a function of the writing or the direction, or perhaps a bit of both." Full Review
See it if you like a story that is universal in scope and yet semi-autobiographical heart felt!
Don't see it if you do not have a heart as this show makes one appreciate parents and sacrifice!
See it if If you want to learn Korean History and culture and you love laughing and a heartfelt moment or two.
Don't see it if If you are prejudice about cultures that differ from your life.
See it if You have lived the immigrant experience in North America. If a comedy with heart and soul matters to you.
Don't see it if You're a racist. This show is proudly about a multicultural experience and if you can't enjoy that, don't go.
See it if you are looking for a great laugh. It's the best pull-at-your-heart-strings, but feel-good 90-ish (non-musical) minutes of the year.
Don't see it if you don't like to laugh, you don't understand Canadian humor or you are not interesting immigrant stories
See it if You want to see a hilarious story about an immigrant family that will leave you crying and calling your parents to tell them you love them
Don't see it if You're bothered by edgy humor and frank representations of inter-cultural racism (e.g. conflict between Korean and Japanese people)
Also A sitcom waiting to happen!
See it if you want to see a nuanced portrayal of an Asian immigrant parent (the father speaks loudly, but his words have lots of subtext & meaning).
Don't see it if you prefer to see immigrants as caricatures/cliches. You want a heavy drama or only comedy; this has both light & heavy moments.
See it if If you want to see a day in the life of an immigrant couple with their American-raised kids. Very relevant and true to the culture.
Don't see it if You don't enjoy a slice of life type of story or prefer a really exciting, action-apcked story.
See it if You like great acting and family stories. You want to support theater diversity. You are curious about Canadian theater.
Don't see it if You don't like accents or intergenerational stories.
See it if you like touching family sagas and raw, realistic narratives about immigration and gentrification. The whole audience laughed and cried.
Don't see it if you want a fluffier show or a spectacle w/ many moving parts. The pacing was also a bit uneven, likely to ease non-immigrants into the story
See it if This show was wonderful. Apparently it's become a Canadian sitcom, with the same actors. Great writing. Heartwarming story. Funny.
Don't see it if you are offended by stereotypes - stereotyping other people (a very funny bit though not PC). Saw it closing. Love it, so reviewed anyway.
See it if you have lived the comic insanity of family relations. Even if you are not Korean their hilarious interactions will touch your heart.
Don't see it if realistic family dramomedy makes you uncomfortable. Parents of grown children coming to terms with the people they have raised.
See it if you want to laugh, think and feel; excellently written, acted, directed. Two generations fight out being in a new country - lovingly.
Don't see it if empathizing with the idea of being a foreigner in a strange new world isn't your cup of Korean tea.
See it if you enjoy sit-com style fast, clever repartee, related to intergenerational conflict, are a parent or a child, or have faced tough choices.
Don't see it if You dislike comedy, TV-style sit-com pace and humor, prefer classic themes to modern ones
See it if Touching family drama with many funny moments, beautifully performed. Several audience members were in tears.
Don't see it if You are not interested in the impact of the immigrant experience across generations.
See it if you like a play that is: both funny and poignant; about struggles within a family;and is one of Canada's most popular shows ever.
Don't see it if you don't like a play about struggles of an immigrant family, the Korean culture and assimilation, or isn't edgy or political.
See it if You like family stories. You like immigrant stories. You like finding familiarities in plays. You like to laugh.
Don't see it if You just don't get the immigrant stories. You don't know how to connect with people.
See it if curious about new dramas that focus on the Korean-American experience; like short and plucky pieces that are well-written and performed.
Don't see it if you dislike dramas about the American Dream and/or immigrant & first-generation people; aren't one for family dramas; need a lot of action.
See it if you live in a big city and/or can relate to immigrant lives, enjoy comedies touching on real human struggle, and...perfect comedic timing!
Don't see it if you want serious drama. While there are deeply touching dramatic moments, the strength of this production is comedy that touches the heart.
See it if a fan of resonant, relatable family dynamics, portrayed with palpable warmth & slow burn; multifaceted immigrant vs adopted country tale
Don't see it if you need fast pace, snappy dialogue, elaborate set or costumes; this is a quiet drama that unfolds with heart, affection & hard-won insights
See it if You want to see non-stereotypical Asian immigrant characters and inter-generational trans-cultural stories.
Don't see it if You're offended by frank discussion of race including racist stereotypes.
See it if you want to see a "family drama" that has "traditional" family conflicts and you want to be entertained by plot and performances.
Don't see it if you are looking for a "Death of a Salesman" or "The Glass Menagerie" kind of family drama.
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