This is a review of Kim’s Convenience the theater play (very minor spoilers) but will also briefly mention some elements of the TV show for comparison, which I saw first. The play opened this past Wednesday and continues its engagement until March 19 in Montreal at the Segal Centre. It’s produced by Soulpepper, created & written by Ins Choi and directed by Weyni Mengesha with set & costume design by Ken Mackenzie.
Also as an aside, the theater play will make its US debut this July in New York!
The play starts off with Mr. Kim aka Appa (Paul Sun-Hyung Lee) walking into the store. If you’ve seen the TV show, he’s the familiar genial Appa with his jokes and accent but I would say there’s a bit more to him in the play, which is not restricted by TV rules. Much of the first act is comedy as he and his daughter Janet (Rosie Simon) clash and argue over various topics. There is early mention of a Walmart arriving soon and an offer to buy the convenience store from a customer. This is more background info as the main theme of the play is intergenerational conflict between parents and their adult children. Mrs. Kim aka Umma (Jean Yoon) appears from time to time often humming a tune. The fourth member of the family, Jung (Richard Lee), is however not around the store at all, having left the store/home many years previously due to a past incident.
One of the first arguments begins when Appa asks Janet to call 911 about an illegally parked Honda because it’s a Japanese car and he holds a grudge against Japan due to its past history of occupation of Korea. Later on when a customer with a Carribean accent comes into the store there’s an amusing confusion of different accents which leads into some race issues. Appa tries to “educate” Janet on which combinations of race, gender, sexuality will mean a customer is likely to steal. Some of these jokes will be familiar to TV show watchers but there are some differences. In fact, I find they work better in the play because unlike the TV show which tries to stretch some of these jokes into themes for an entire episode, they’re maybe one or two liners in the play.