BWW Review: CRY IT OUT at Geva Theatre Center
Geva Theatre's Fielding Stage currently features a comedy with themes of hard truth, one that's deeply funny but also speaks to the struggles of being a new mom and how life-changing and all-consuming that transition is. It's a continuation of Geva's commitment to featuring works with universal relevance, that speak to people from all strata and walks of life.
"Cry it Out", a 2017 play by SUNY Geneseo graduate Molly Smith Metzler and presented through a partnership with Ithaca's Kitchen Theatre Company, tells the story of Jessie (Mikaela Izquierdo) and Lina (Melissa Miller), two brand new moms whose duplexes are next door to each other in suburban Long Island. Though they're from vastly different backgrounds---Jessie is an upper-middle class attorney and Lina a struggling nurse---they enjoy a cup of coffee together in their connected back yards during their baby's naptime each afternoon, a ritual that forms a deep and meaningful friendship as they commiserate over all that being a new mom entails: the constant rigor of breastfeeding, trying to get into the coveted neighborhood daycare, the loss of identity and bodily autonomy, the toll parenthood often takes on marriage, post-partum depression, and the struggle of if---and when--- to go back to work. Eventually Adrienne (Erica Steinhagen), another new mom in the neighborhood, reluctantly joins their afternoon mommy meet-up after much insistence from her husband Mitchell (Brian Sgambati). Though Adrienne is cold and aggressive toward the other moms, we quickly learn that despite her cushy upper-class lifestyle (she's a celebrated jewelry designer with multiple nannies and a cliffside estate) she struggles with all the same aspects of being a new mom that Jessie and Lina do.
"Cry it Out" is the kind of stigma-breaking theatre that audiences need more of. New motherhood is scary, often isolating, and always sheer pandemonium, and plays like this help create community and empathy at a time when it's most needed. Smith Metzler addresses nearly every facet of motherhood, and doesn't use kid gloves: from the emotional and physical impact of caring for a newborn, to the not-so-subtle sociopolitical indictment of a system that fails to adequately provide for working parents. The fact that she can address these issues in a fresh and often hilarious way speaks to her playwriting capabilities, as well as to the acting talents of the cast, particularly Izquierdo and Miller, who capture the frenzy and chaos of being new parents powerfully and comedically, and with great chemistry.
Unsurprisingly, as I sat in the audience next to my wife who's currently eight months pregnant, "Cry it Out" deeply affected me. Is this really what it's going to be like? The exhaustion, constant anxiety, stress, and self-doubt? And since the brunt of infant care unfairly falls much more heavily on the mom, am I going to be the patient and supportive dad and husband that my wife needs me to be? I've read innumerable baby books, "Motherly" articles, Pinterest posts, and do's-and-don'ts lists over the past eight months, but am I, like, READY ready? Seeing "Cry it Out" assured me that no, I almost certainly am not, but that it will be OK. The trials and tribulations---and joys! ---of being a new parent are universal across all backgrounds and walks of life, and there's comfort to be had in knowing that every parent has been here before.
"Cry it Out" is a funny and meaningful story of friendship, joy, and empathy between new moms, one that every parent can relate to. It's playing at Geva's Feilding Stage until March 22; for tickets and more information, click here.