Written by Julia Cho
Directed by Kate Whoriskey
September 4, 2016
💉💉 out of 5.
I had thought I had seen everything, but then a play comes along that is titled Aubergine – – or eggplant as most people would say. I admit that due to my lack of vegetable knowledge – I spent most of the first half of this play waiting for some character named Aubergine to appear – – and he did, but as part of a casserole.This play had a truly beautiful premise – – we remember our lives as a series of meals that we have shared with family and loved ones at important markers of our life. There is a meal that will always take us back to childhood and one that will become the cornerstone of our adult relationships. We heal with food, we love with food, we honor with food. Food is a beautiful, unspoken way to speak to each other.
At the center of the play is a father who is on his death bed and a son who is trying to heal his relationship with the father, now unable to speak. Much is made of the wonderful meals that have been served in the family and how pride and caring were all dished out as memorable meals. The metaphor was quite beautiful – – but the problem was that the metaphor was pushed way too hard. Too often characters relied on narrative monologues rather then genuine scenes. Too often characters reached for that, “when I was much younger . . “ monologue. The play just seemed too clunky. I had trouble believing the characters – they became a mouthpiece for the author to talk about food.
After the production, a lady sitting next to me asked me if I found myself crying at the death of the father at the end. I said, “No.” She also found herself surprisingly dry eyed. We agreed that we just didn’t care enough about the characters; we were too busy trying to remember all of the food metaphors. The play gave me a lot to think about – but admittedly, it might have been easier to just read this play. There was little need for the actors.