Family finances and class take a toll on new parents in “Cry It Out”
Thrown Stone Theatre, Ridgefield: Any parent who experienced the early days of dealing with a newborn must see Molly Smith Metzler’s “Cry It Out.” There’s a lot to laugh about and just as much to cry about in what at first glance looks like a tribute to new mothers. In actuality, the playwright has so well crafted the absent characters in this play that it quickly becomes obvious that fathers, grandparents and family all face challenging issues when that package of joy enters the home.
It all starts when Jessie, desperate for adult companionship meets new mom and neighbor Lina at Stop & Shop. Both quickly become coffee break friends in their abutting Long Island backyards as close as their baby monitors will reach. On a daily basis they discuss breastfeeding, health concerns, their husbands and their finances.
Jessie, an Ivy League educated attorney, is married to a social snob who wants the best things in life. This comes to a head when Jessie’s desire to become a stay-at-home mom becomes a serious issue in their marriage. Lina, who attended night school and is a nurse, is continually battling finances. She and her husband live with her mother-in-law — an alcoholic — and child care becomes a serious problem.
Sharing the happy and scary moments of having newborns, Jessie and Lina become good friends. When Mitch, a wealthy high class gentleman, stops by and asks if the women would invite his wife to join them, friction is inevitable. Lina resents that Jessie agreed to it because Adrienne has a nanny, maids, and couldn’t possibly have anything in common with them. She also feels that the upper-class woman would ruin the friendship the two woman already share.
When Adrienne arrives on the scene, it is easy to see that she wants no part of these coffee breaks. She also makes it obvious that she doesn’t want the company of these women — especially Lina who is rather low class and Jessie who is middle class. Adrienne’s resistance to their friendship and her husband’s concerns prove to be surprising when she finally reveals the root of her problem.
The acting is superior with Clare Parme as Jessie always standing tall and sophisticated while revealing a natural vulnerability. Maria McConville convincingly plays Lina with street smarts in her look as well as her vocabulary. Jonathan Winn, a founding co-artistic director of Thrown Stone Theatre brings his character Mitchell, Adrienne’s husband, to life. Winn immediately leaves no doubt that Mitchell is distinguished and definitely upper-class.
Thanks to Brenda Phelps, the costumer, it’s easy to determine the social class of each of the characters. Adrienne and Mitchell are class acts; he in his well-pressed and cleaned suit; she in her expensive and artsy attire. Don’t be surprised if you start feeling your heart racing whenever Wynter Kullman as Adrienne steps on stage. Her performance is as stunning as it is powerful. She manages to make the audience dislike her completely with her first appearance and by the last of her scenes, she turns the tables and has the audience not only liking her, but eating out of her hand.
The set designed by Fufan Zhang gives the three-sided stage a close-up view of the action. Featuring a swing on a large tree with resident birdhouse, a green grassy lawn, and a child’s wooden playground platform complete with laddered steps, the simple backyard scene is complete. Jason Peck’s sound design and Lydia Strong’s lighting design punctuate the set as well as the action.
Overall, this is a fine production of a fine play, featuring outstanding performances. How can you possibly pass this up when it is New York smart — full Equity, heading to Hartford Stage and affordable? It plays through July 28.
Joanne Greco Rochman is an active member in the American Theatre Critics Association. She welcomes comments. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.