The biggest surprise for Kenn McLaughlin when he directed the St. Louis production and U.S. premiere of De Kus (The Kiss) for Upstream Theater was that the audience skewed young (“20s and 30s”).
After all this is a play in which two people, both north of 50, meet unexpectedly while both are considering what time they have left. She is a homemaker with a medical crisis and he is a disillusioned comic.
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"It is not political. It is two human beings contemplating their mortality. But that contemplation comes with a price. You have to choose carefully the paths that you take and the impact that your choices will have in the world," says McLaughlin, artistic director for Houston’s Stages Repertory Theatre. (It was McLaughlin's work directing Stupid F*****g Bird last year that attracted the interest of playwright Philip Boehm, one of the founders of Upstream who asked him to come in and direct their production. )
Several people from Houston traveled north to see the play by Dutch author Ger Thijs and urged McLaughlin to present the two-act in Houston – which is what he’s about to do in a co-production with Upstream with the same two actors (Lisa Tejero and Eric White) who won accolades along with the play itself in St. Louis. As for the Houston audience, McLaughlin thinks it will appeal to all ages because after all, "who hasn't made choices in their life?"
“At a certain time in your life you start to think to yourself, ‘Hey I don’t have any more choices left,’ so you start to be really careful,” says McLaughlin, “You lose a little bit of hope about the choices you make and your dreams are not as bright later in life. The play has a little bit of magic in it: what if you did choose to dream as big as you did when you were young, what would happen?”
Houston audiences can find out on October 12-30 at 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Stages Repertory Theatre, 3201 Allen Parkway. For information call 713-527-0123 or visit stagestheatre.com. $21-$65.