Park Theatre

KIM’S CONVENIENCE at the Park Theatre


“funny and warm, balancing real laughs with touching moments”

This is the U.K. premiere of a beloved Canadian play, originally staged in 2011, which spawned a highly successful five season CBS TV series. The show became an international hit after being broadcast on Netflix.

Ins Choi, who wrote and starred in the original, has returned to the cast, but is now starring as the father of his previous character. There is something moving in the cycles of time that this represents. It is in keeping with the themes of the play, which explores intergenerational relationships, and the very different struggles of first and second generation immigrants.

The play follows Mr Kim (Choi) known as Appa by his family, as he wrestles with plans for the future of his convenience store. For him, his wife (Namju Go), his daughter, struggling photographer Janet (Jennifer Kim) and his estranged son Jung (Brian Law) this place represents far more than just a store – it is a burden, a legacy and a curse.

Choi’s script is funny and warm, balancing real laughs with touching moments that makes the play feel genuine and moving. Esther Jun’s directing is energetic and joyous.

“Ins Choi’s performance is sublime”

There are some moments which are played for laughs in a way which may detract from the deeper emotions. I struggled with some of the comedy violence, especially in light of the discussions throughout the play about Appa’s history of violent temper tantrums. Controversial comedy is at the heart of this play, and some of the shock factor moments still feel as taboo in 2023 as they must have in 2011. Much of this comes through discussions of race, especially when Mr Kim talks about black people. Miles Mitchell, who multi-roles all non-Kim family parts in the play, is black, and Mr Kim interacts with this in a way which is at times hard to watch. Some moments are hilarious, in a cringe comedy way, but some are truly difficult.

Ins Choi’s performance is sublime, he keeps the tragedy of Mr Kim bubbling under the surface, allowing us to forgive his more unpleasant moments. Namju Go is also powerful as Mrs Kim. Her performance is subtle and moving. At some points she and Choi speak in Korean, but the strength of their performances means non-Korean speakers can follow along easily. It adds to the feeling that the audience is peeking into a private moment in the lives of this family. Miles Mitchell is also a particular standout, effortlessly shifting between roles and bringing depth to every minor character.

Mona Camille’s set is built as a convenience store, with actual snacks and packets of cigarettes. It is meticulous and evocative.

Jonathan Chan’s lighting design manages to conjure both the strip store lighting of the corner store, as well as shifting to create memory sequences. It plays both with extreme naturalism and a nod to the opposite, and is beautifully thought through.

This is a play about people who are rarely the stars of plays. It is a small snippet of a very real life. I can see why this play was vital in 2011 and why it has enjoyed such success in Canada. Nearly 15 years on, it does feel less fresh, but the warmth and charm has remained.


KIM’S CONVENIENCE at the Park Theatre

Reviewed on 12th January 2024

by Auriol Reddaway

Photography by Mark Douet


Previously reviewed at this venue:

21 ROUND FOR CHRISTMAS | ★★★★ | December 2023
THE TIME MACHINE – A COMEDY | ★★★★ | December 2023
IKARIA | ★★★★ | November 2023
PASSING | ★★★½ | November 2023
THE INTERVIEW | ★★★ | November 2023
IT’S HEADED STRAIGHT TOWARDS US | ★★★★★ | September 2023
SORRY WE DIDN’T DIE AT SEA | ★★½ | September 2023
THE GARDEN OF WORDS | ★★★ | August 2023
BONES | ★★★★ | July 2023
PAPER CUT | ★★½ | June 2023
LEAVES OF GLASS | ★★★★ | May 2023
THE BEACH HOUSE | ★★★ | February 2023



Click here to see our Recommended Shows page