EXCERPTS FROM THE REVIEW
Below are excerpts from the March 23, 2018 Baltimore Sun review of Aubergine.
EVERYMAN THEATRE SERVES A FILLING STORY OF LOVE, FAMILY AND LOSS IN 'AUBERGINE'
The ingredients in “Aubergine,” Julia Cho’s play receiving an effective staging at Everyman Theatre, are not all that unusual — cups of relationship issues and family tensions, dashes of heart and head, a smidgen of old-fashioned wit and wisdom. But by making food the thread that connects everything in her story about facing mortality, the playwright creates something fresh and rather touching.
And while there’s no mistaking the universal applicability of the struggles and emotions in this drama, the specific context here — the principal characters are Korean-Americans — adds richer layers and generates a distinctive dynamic.
Confronting the past, as a way to seek answers and reassurances, to uncover the soul of one’s roots, is a major point of “Aubergine.”
The Everyman cast, sensitively guided by company artistic director Vincent M. Lancisi, taps into the work’s lyrical side as tellingly as its smart humor.
The bulk of the play focuses on Ray (Tony Nam), an accomplished chef who discovers that his father (Glenn Kubota) is so ill that home hospice care is the recommended option. The two had trouble communicating beforehand — the parent never embraced his son’s career choice — and the distance between them is all the greater now that the older man can barely speak at all.
Into this uptight home comes Ray’s non-English-speaking uncle (Song Kim), having rushed from Korea to be with his dying brother. Language isn’t the only barrier that has to be overcome (supertitles provide translations when Korean is spoken). There’s also the matter of a culinary challenge from the uncle that rattles Ray.
But that challenge also unlocks keys to the past. And confronting the past, as a way to seek answers and reassurances, to uncover the soul of one’s roots, is a major point of “Aubergine.” The way Cho underlines how inconclusive and frustrating such a search can be, but also how essential it is to try, gives the play its impact.