Whether they’re getting dolled up for a trip to the Shop-N-Stop like it’s a trip to the prom, or realizing, as the Fed-Ex guy walks away, that they’ve had an entire conversation with their breast hanging out, Jessie and Lina are having their share of motherhood misadventures in their first weeks of parenthood.
That’s part of the reason the two are so desperate to connect (Emjoy Gavino’s Jessie even admits she essentially leaped over shelving to introduce herself to her neighbor in the grocery store). The two start off tentative, complimenting each other and dancing a little around tough parenting debates often the subject of the stereotypical “Mommy Wars.” But the pair’s ensuing coffee dates (at first held in the small patch of yard where both their baby monitors are able to reach) lead to a fast friendship that’s at the core of Molly Smith Metzler’s Cry It Out, now playing at Studio Theatre.
Cry It Out
closes December 16, 2018
Details and tickets
The play’s candid talk surrounding motherhood is refreshing (if at times brutal — Jessie’s non-parent friends, for example, do not fare particularly well), and undoubtably relatable to the mothers in the audience. As the self-deprecating Lina, with a heavy Long Island accent and attitude for miles), Dina Thomas is particularly hilarious — she has the audience hanging on every wry anecdote. Gavino, in more of the straight-man role, brings real empathy to Jessie’s early struggles, particularly the deep sense of fear and protectiveness she feels after almost losing her daughter in childbirth.
Director Joanie Schultz keeps things feeling intimate, setting just about all the action around their intimate conversations, first held on a play set and eventually on a piece of actual patio furniture as the pair becomes more settled into their new surroundings.
Jessie and Lina are thrown a curveball when a new father named Mitchell (Paolo Andino) shows up at Jessie’s doorstep, practically begging for an invite to one of their daily gatherings for his wife (Tessa Klein). When she arrives, the disinterested Adrienne seems almost cartoonish in her aloofness towards the tight-knit pair. But Cry It Out eventually offers her character some more dimension, even if it takes a while to get there.
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The snappy, comedic play is heavier than it might appear at the outset. Though some of Cry It Out’s plot twists are pretty well-telegraphed from the beginning, the play manages to keep the audience guessing. Those unpredictable turns are some of the best ways Smith Metzler upends and questions assumptions and cliches about motherhood.
Cry It Out by Molly Smith Metzler . Directed by Joanie Schultz. Featuring Emjoy Gavino, Dina Thomas, Paolo Andino, and Tessa Klein. Set Design: Chelsea Warren. Costume Design: Kathleen Geldard. Lighting Design: Heather Gilbert. Sound Design: Sarah O’Halloran.Review by Missy Frederick.