BWW Review: Molly Smith Metzler's CRY IT OUT at Detroit Public Theatre Tackles Every Aspect of Parenthood Perfectly
"Wow, that was an amazing show," you said to yourself after leaving Detroit Public Theatre's (DPT) current production of Cry it Out. And you also said that last month after seeing Pipeline at DPT. Two back-to-back shows that nailed every single aspect of what refreshing, topical and entertaining theatre should be.
DPT's three Co-Founders/Producing Artistic Directors-Courtney Burkett, Sarah Clare Corporandy and Sarah Winkler-have continued to support women's voices including Cry it Out's playwright Molly Smith Metzler and Pipeline's Dominique Morrisseau, both coincidentally, or maybe not so coincidentally, producers and writers on Showtime's Shameless. As three mothers themselves, Burkett, Corporandy and Winkler have tackled many challenging topics in their continual quest for thought-provoking theatre. And Cry it Out is no exception as the characters try to navigate a universal challenge: parenthood.
Artfully directed by Courtney Burkett, Cry it Out is an actor's dream. With a stellar four-person cast, Cry it Out allows role-defining moments for each actor with dialogue expertly crafted by Metzler and spot-on delivered by the talented ensemble.
The entire story takes place in the backyard of Jessie's (Breayre Tender) house. A sophisticated, compassionate attorney, Jessie is on maternity leave and finds out that her spitfire, rough-around-the-edges neighbor, Lina (Dani Cochrane), is in the same boat. With baby monitors in hand, Jessie and Lina meet daily at the precise spot on the grass (set design by Pegi Marshall) where they can hear their babies cry. In that case, Lina can quickly run back to the house owned by Lina's boyfriend's mother where they all live due to financial constraints. When Lina eventually has to go back to work--a necessity, not a choice--she is tormented by leaving her baby with her alcoholic mother-in-law to be.
Jessie grapples with going back to work and staying on the partner track versus being a stay-a-home mom. Wealthy businessman Mitchell (Bryan Lark) enters the sea of estrogen from his mansion on the hill where he stalks Lina and Jessie by watching their coffee dates through his telescope. He pleads with Lina and Jessie to let them have his post-partum, stoic wife, Adrienne (Sarah Winkler), join their mommy group. While Adrienne reluctantly shows up, under protest, her visit is short-lived and biting.
Make no mistake that the tough issues that new parents face are all presented here in the tight production that breezes by in the 90-minute, no intermission show. But beyond the angst, guilt, worries and fear are many funny moments that Cochrane delivers with the perfect amount of sassiness, humor and relatability for the underdog. And who doesn't love a girl in a fuchsia velour sweatsuit with moon boots (costumes by Katherine Nelson)?
Tender's portrayal is warm and compassionate. Lark is effective as an awkward desperate husband with a definite creepiness befitting a stalker. Winkler's performance as the ice-mom cometh is highly nuanced and her unraveling of her tough exterior to a vulnerable being is raw, heartbreaking and real.
It's like the proverbial ads say, "you'll laugh, you'll cry " --it out. And who doesn't need a good cry or laugh these days?
Cry it Out runs through Dec. 9 on the Detroit Public Theatre stage inside the Robert A. & Maggie Allesee Hall at the Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Music Center, home of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (3711 Woodward Ave., Detroit, MI 48201). Tickets are $25-$47.50 for performances Wednesdays-Sundays. Visit detroitpublictheatre.org or call DPT at (313) 974-7918, for tickets call (313) 576-5111.
Photo by Chuk Nowak