Photo by Don Kellogg

Thursday, September 8, 2016


In what can be described as a somber, quiet, and delicious entree, Julia Cho's new play, Aubergine, has made its debut over at Playwrights Horizons.  It's about food, memories, family, and death.  Yes, you read that correctly - death.

I hope this won't come as a spoiler given the somber mood of the play, but yes, there is a death.  It's ever-present during most of the play - an old man dying in a bed on stage.

Say what you will, but 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 that we should cherish the "good stuff" always.  On Ms. Cho's stage that good stuff is food.

Ray (Tim Kang) is the young (allegedly only) son of his (unnamed character) father (Steven Park).  Father is dying.  Except for a few flashbacks and funny, touching memories, he is virtually dead in his dining room in a hospital bed the entire play.  His caregiver, Lucien, (Michael Potts) is a wise, calm, ethereal man who seems to know about death and dying as it is his life's profession as a hospice caregiver.  Ray's Uncle (his father's long absent brother), Lucien, (Joseph Steven Yang) arrives from Korea to mourn his brother and say his peace.  Cornelia (Sue Jean Kim) is Ray's on-again-off-again quirky girlfriend.  Perhaps one of the most interesting interlopers in this tale is the book-ended character, Diane (Jessica Love) who opens and then closes the play.  She weaves an overly self-indulgent tale in the beginning and appears in the end to tie it all together.

Ms. Cho's storytelling ability is fantastic.  The mood is both somber and recognizable.  Her characters are mostly real - although we would all like to think we are a bit more prepared for a parent to die than perhaps Ray was - but I suspect there is a bit of Ray in all of us.

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.

Who knew the power of Pastrami?