For some people food is more than a way to get sustenance. It can be linked to memories, a way to share something about yourself with other people, or used to mark an occasion. AUBERGINE, playing at San Diego Repertory Theatre through February 17th explores the bonds of love and family through food.
Ray (Brian Kim) is a French chef, who struggles to care for his terminally ill father (Dana Lee) in his last days. With his bed set up in the dining room, the only place where it will fit, Ray tries to connect with his father before it is too late.
Hospice nurse Lucien (Terrell Donnell Sledge) helps Ray through the initial worry and stress with gentle suggestions and reminders that Ray needs to get out of the house for his own mental health as well. Ray asks his ex-girlfriend Cornelia (Audrey Park) to help him connect with his only family left, his Uncle (Yong Kim) who still resides in Korea. Annoyed at the request because of Ray’s sudden disappearance from their shared workplace and relationship, she eventually agrees.
As Ray, Kim is excellent in conveying this emotional journey of love and loss with humor and vulnerability. The play also gives his character a touch of magical realism as a chef that always seems to intuit the perfect meal for the person he is serving. Wouldn’t that be a nice talent to have at your next dinner party?
Lee as the father has a powerful monologue and a weight of the years this character has lived. Park is brings a nice hit of acidic brightness to balance some of the heavier emotional arcs. Yong Kim as the Uncle has a delightful energy and though he speaks only in Korean for the piece is able to communicate everything clearly regardless of the language spoken. His monologue on a Korean meal is as moving as it is appetizing. Sledge brings a calming and introspective feel that helps the characters and the audience process the events as they unfold.
Amanda Sitton as Diane is a character that seems a bit disconnected to the events of the play but ultimately is used to help connect everything together. She also has a monologue about a pastrami sandwich that is so appetizing that it will have you looking for the closest deli.
Directed by Todd Salovey, with scenic design by Justin Humphres, and lighting design by Kristin Swift everything comes together in this ensemble to complement each component and the story.
AUBERGINE IS a story about the honoring family, connecting through generations, and accepting each person for who they are, while savoring as much of each bite of life (sorry for the pun) is a perfect recipe for a show that is warm, a touch bittersweet but thoroughly satisfying.
AUBERGINE is playing through February 17th at the San Diego Repertory Theatre. For ticket information and show times go to www.sdrep.org