Dana Lee (left) and Brian Kim in "Aubergine." Photo by Jim Carmody
Musings on the association between food, memories and emotions are nothing new. Nor are ruminations on death. In this sense, Julia Cho’s Aubergine explores no uncharted territory. But in spite of its familiarities, her dignified play about a dying father and the disconnected son attending him (with the help of a philosopher-king hospice nurse) is a graceful, ruminative piece. Toward its conclusion, Aubergine (the word means eggplant) postulates that, among other things, “death is food.” The two, one tangible the other anything but, are woven into the story of Ray (Brian Kim) and his father (Dana Lee) at the San Diego Repertory Theatre.
Director Todd Salovey oversees a production that while heavy on platitudes (most of them coming from the hospice nurse, Lucien (Terrell Donnell Sledge), relies on the lyricism of Cho’s writing and earnest performances from its ensemble, which also includes Audrey Park, Yong Kin and Amanda Sitton. While the audience-facing monologues interspersing Ray’s story feel manufactured, their messages are heartfelt.
(Review originally published in San Diego CityBeat on 2/6/19.)
David L. Coddon is a Southern California theater critic.