BWW Review: CRY IT OUT at Thrown Stone Theatre Company
On Thursday, July 11, I had the pleasure of seeing the Connecticut debut of Molly Smith Metzler's emotionally intense dark comedy CRY IT OUT, as put on by Thrown Stone at the Ridgefield Conservatory of Dance in Ridgefield, CT. Thrown Stone is yet again masterfully performing a production that immediately grips the attention of the audience, stimulates the mind, touches the emotions, and captivates us with the story line, drawing us right in, in such an intimate setting that it makes us feel as if we are eyewitnesses to actual events.
The audience is seated in two rows on each of three different sides of the performance area, first row on level with the cast. Every seat is a good one, as the performers are blocked in such a way that people on all of the three available sides of the performance area simultaneously feel as if they are on the side that has the best view. The set depicts a backyard on Long Island, where the entire story takes place. The element of smell is present when cheese or coffee appears on the stage, enhancing the personal feel.
The brilliant directing of Gina Pulice helps bring out the best in this stellar cast of Clare Parme, Jonathan Winn, Maria McConville, and Wynter Kullman.
Clare Parme is very convincing in her phenomenal portrayal of the central character Jessie, a new mother who struggles with the loneliness of being at home with the baby, while her husband is at work all day. Nevertheless, Jessie desires to continue life as a stay at home mom, with plans not to return to her job, as an attorney, after her granted maternity leave has ended. Jessie and her husband Nate (who does not appear in the show) are atrocious communicators with each other. Based on Jessie's perspective, one can glean that Jessie initially fails to tell Nate her feelings and desires, gets mad at him when he tries to help her or express his feelings and desires, and has no qualms speaking ill of her husband, even when speaking to someone she just met. As the show progresses, however, we see that a large part of the communication problem also lies with Nate, in that when he gets something in his head, he is not willing to reevaluate his idea, even if Jessie communicates that she is vehemently opposed to the idea. Regardless of whether Jessie is excited, angry, or upset, Clare Parme sells every emotion.
Maria McConville is highly believable as Lina, who is Jessie's neighbor, and also a new mother. Maria McConville's stage accent, attitude, and mannerisms truly bring Lina to life. Lina is the person to whom Jessie initially badmouths her husband, during Jessie's first time hanging out with Lina, after they (in the back story) met at Stop & Shop. Lina is receptive and sympathetic towards Jessie and what she has to say. Lina lives with her newborn son, her boyfriend who is her son's father, and her boyfriend's mother who has a drinking problem. Lina and Jessie develop a friendship, bonding over their maternal woes, during their maternity leaves. Lina works at a hospital and, on their first day of hanging out, is much closer to her anticipated date of returning to work, than Jessie is. The financial necessity of Lina returning to work is also stronger that Jessie's is, at least from the perspectives of Lina and Jessie. This leads to some deliberately awkward and uncomfortable moments between Jessie and Lina, masterfully performed by Clare Parme and Maria McConville whose stage chemistry with each other is so strong that the audience can easily forget that Jessie and Lina are fictional characters.
Jonathan Winn provides a strong portrayal of Mitchell, another neighbor whose wife had recently given birth. Mitchell initially comes across as a creepy stalker neighbor, but then comes back to mention that he would like his wife to spend time with Jessie and Lina, so she could connect with new mothers too. Lina is unreceptive and highly leery of Mitchell, but Jessie is willing to give Mitchell and his wife a chance. As the show progresses, it appears possible that Mitchell may have indecent adulterous intentions towards Jessie. As the two converse, apart from Lina, they express mutual disappointment with their respective spouses towards each other, while expressing to each other an approval of each other's behavior as spouses, a very dangerous and highly unnecessary conversation to have, the early stages of what could at least be an emotional affair.
Wynter Kullman is brilliant as Adrienne, the wife of Mitchell. Adrienne initially comes across as phone obsessed, rude, arrogant, and all around unpleasant. Her own perspective is later shown, as she verbally lashes out at Jessie over Jessie's inappropriate conversation with Mitchell about Adrienne, one in which Jessie, despite not being a doctor, attempted to diagnose Adrienne with a form of depression. This conflict scene in which Adrienne tells off Jessie is so intense that the audience can feel the friction and hostility that Adrienne expresses towards Jessie. The acting was so stellar that I again had to remind myself that what I was seeing was a fictional show and not a real life conflict.
All four cast members made me feel emotions. Whether it was sympathy or anger towards their characters, or towards the unseen characters they were merely talking about, their portrayals resonated with me. I tremendously enjoyed this show and its realistic portrayal of the challenges some couples face when first becoming parents, especially when they had not effectively communicated their parenting and career plans with each other, prior to getting pregnant, I also like the way that this show realistically portrays the reality that physical and emotional complications resulting from dramatic life changes are common to people of all economic levels.
For mature audiences, I highly recommend CRY IT OUT which Thrown Stone has scheduled to continue to run at the Ridgefield Conservatory of Dance through July 28, 2019. For times and tickets, please go to https://thrownstone.org/events/.