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Lisa Tejero in the Upstream Theatre production of De Kus (The Kiss)

“When I first read De Kus [The Kiss], it affected me deeply,” says Kenn McLaughlin, artistic director at Stages Repertory Theatre, who directed the U.S. premiere of De Kus in 2015 at Upstream Theater in St. Louis. “I knew we needed to do it in Houston.”

The two-character play, written by Dutch playwright Ger Thijs and translated by Paul Evans, follows a small-town woman on her way to see a doctor to determine if she has breast cancer. She meets a fellow hiker on her walk through the woods to the appointment, setting into motion a series of events that cause the nameless characters to confront their lives. McLaughlin says the play is a strong reminder about the underpinnings of what makes people tick, whether it’s their spirituality or the way they approach challenging decisions.

“As the needle ticks past 50, you start to see things differently,” says McLaughlin. “I find myself thinking about my own mortality and things I haven't done but still dream about. You find yourself looking at what’s left in your life and how your perspectives have shifted."

McLaughlin calls the play a “beautiful, gentle meditation” on those themes. He's excited to bring the play to Houston, where St. Louis actors Lisa Tejero and Eric White reprise their roles. When he directed the production at Upstream Theater, the Riverfront Times called it "an unexpected delight,” praising its compelling and unflinching look at life and relationships. It was also named one of the city’s Top 10 Shows of 2015.

“We had audience members from Houston see it [in St. Louis] and they said, ‘We want that here,’” says McLaughlin. “So, while it was joyful for me to work in another community, I’m excited to bring these actors here to Houston. I’m so pleased at how this all came together.”

McLaughlin thinks De Kus will resonate with audiences of all ages because of the show’s underlying themes of humanity and connectivity.

“I look for plays I feel compelled to do,” he says. “This is definitely a more reflective season. We have a series of plays that are introspective, and build on themes about what it means to be people and how we exist together.”

Thru Oct 30. From $21. 3201 Allen Pkwy, Ste 101. 713-527-0123. stagestheatre.com

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