My first shopping destination with my brother and sister was our local convenience store to buy milk and to choose with great difficulty penny candy or chips. Now I live almost across the street from a convenience store. Over the years the store has saved me and my neighbours late in the evening when there was no milk for breakfast or scotch tape for a last minute school project. I have come to know the different owners and sometimes I have been fortunate to learn their stories and how they came to this place. One such story is currently being told through the play Kim’s Convenience on stage at Soulpepper Theatre at the Distillery. It is in part the playwright’s story, his parents’ story and the composite story of an immigrant child and his family. Ins Choi, the playwright, states in the introduction, “Kim’s Convenience is my love letter to my parents and to all first generation immigrants who call Canada their home.”
The story is told thoughtfully with humour, honesty and depth of understanding. The voices are authentic and brought to life with strong, engaging performances. The set, a convenience store, is complete with chips and energy drinks and lottery tickets and we, the audience, are invited into Kim’s Convenience to get a close look at the family, the customers and community. We feel the universal tension of the play as we watch Mr. Kim struggle as a father with the sadness and confusion of changing family interests and needs and as a proprietor with a changing community with developers on his doorstep. We empathize with him as he plaintively asks his daughter, “What is my story? What is the story of me, Mr. Kim?
We know and have experienced some of this story – an urban Canadian story, very much a Toronto story- but choosing to tell it in the theatre gives new insightful perspectives and emotion and allows us to hear language and voices we have not heard before on stage. You will laugh and you might cry and most importantly you will recognize and find something of your own story, your family’s story, your community’s story in Kim’s Convenience.
Kim’s Convenience is playing at Soulpepper Theatre until June 19th at which time it begins a national tour. For more information: www.soulpepper.ca.
– Debbie Nyman
UPDATE: December 2014
Kim’s Convenience is back: KIM’S CONVENIENCE by Ins Choi (Soulpepper). At the Young Centre (50 Tank House). Runs to December 28; see soulpepper.ca for performance dates.
Seen this or anything else interesting? Send us your comments.