Stage Kiss Explores a Woman's Mid-Life Crisis and Love

“She” is a middle-aged woman going through a mid-life crisis. “He” is her ex love, 20 years back and now the fellow actor she is kissing repeatedly in the play in which they've both been cast.

The regional premiere of Stage Kiss coming to Studio 101 courtesy of Stark Naked Theatre Company is one of well-respected playwright Sarah Ruhl's (Eurydice and In the Next Room or the Vibrator Play) most accessible plays, according to company co-founder Philip Lehl (Macbeth, Clybourne Park, LMNOP) . He has a part in the play, being directed by Brandon Weinbrenner (who did so well with Venus in Fur at the Alley last season) while his wife, Kim Tobin-Lehl (Body Awareness, Macbeth) plays the “She” role (yes that's the name Ruhl went with) and Luis Gallido (Wittenberg, Marie Antoinette) is the “He.”

“In Stage Kiss, it's a question of where do the characters stop and the real people start?” says Weinbrenner who identifies the play as magical realism set in present day over a four to five month period.

Tobin-Lehl says her character is “at a place in her life where she feels unfulfilled romantically and she happens to go in and audition for a play. She feels like life is kind of bland and empty. She gets cast against her ex-love of 20 years ago and she has to kiss him over and over and over and in the midst of all those kisses it reignites this love and in the midst of that it reignites her needs for romance and to feel validated about being beautiful again and having hope again for a life that could be more exciting, more beautiful, transcend the ordinary.

“And then the play brings her back around to what does actually fulfill your life,” Tobin-Lehl says.

Lehl says he finds the play intriguing in the ideas it explores. “The idea of a female mid life crisis is somewhat novel.”

The two-act play takes about two hours with intermission. Cast members also include Philip Hays, Jennifer Laporte, Josh Morrison and Molly Searcy.” As, in essence, a play within a play, Stage Kiss also shows “all the effort that goes into what made that piece of theater,” Weinbrenner says. “It's set in the theater,” Lehl says, “but it's about love versus romance. And kissing.”

Stage Kiss  runs May 28 through June 20. At 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays at Studio 101, Spring Street Studios, 1824 Spring Street. Visit or call 832-866-6514. $25-40 with pay what you can on Monday, June 15. 
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Margaret Downing is the editor-in-chief who oversees the Houston Press newsroom and its online publication. She frequently writes on a wide range of subjects.
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