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BWW Review: CRY IT OUT at Phoenix Theatre

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BWW Review: CRY IT OUT at Phoenix Theatre

Six week after giving birth I braved the outside world with my daughter for the first time completely on my own. We went to a breastfeeding support group at a local hospital. I was completely overwhelmed, sleep-deprived and somehow managed to get lost in the winding corridors. The adventure ended with me in tears in an elevator. I don't often share personal details here, but The Phoenix Theatre's production of Cry It Out hit close to home for me.

Becoming a new parent is one of the most intense things you can experience. It is exhausting and beautiful and it brings you to your knees. It's full of barely comprehendible paradoxes. You are immediately connected to generations of women who have done this incredible thing before you. You are also isolated as you try to learn how to survive while caring for a helpless newborn. The internet becomes a resource for tips and ideas while also becoming a place full of moms making different choices, ready to tell you how you've screwed up. I've never experienced anything like it.

Chelsey Stauffer makes her directorial debut with this production. She orchestrates a delicate balance of quiet connections. She leaves the actors room to allow for the awkwardness of meeting strangers with a shared interest. The set is a simple grassy patch of ground nestled between two realistic back porch stoops. The two main characters, Jessie and Lena, are neighbors, both on maternity leave, who decide to introduce themselves for the first time.

Lauren Briggeman is Jessie, a lawyer trying to find her footing as a new mom. Her performance is raw and intimate. Jessie is a complex character that thankfully doesn't fall into an easy stereotype. Briggeman provides the beating heart of the show and is the character that brings out the best and worst in the neighbors she meets.

Sally Scharbrough has danced her way across Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre's stage in dozens of shows, but seeing her in a starring role is a different ball game. She shines with a fierce openness as the brash Lena. In less capable hands the woman could be a caricature, but instead she's relatable, another mom fighting for her kid's best interest.

The play perfectly demonstrates the two things that I found to be true about becoming a parent. Having a child fundamentally changes who you are and what your priorities are. Somehow at the same time, having a child does not change who you are as a person and what you love. I have no idea how these two things can be true at the same time, but they are.

I love that the playwright, Molly Smith Metzler, didn't turn motherhood into a fairytale; a force that dissolves walls and makes all new moms become best friends. Sometimes that happens, but often it doesn't. Motherhood can be incredibly divisive as women compare notes on breastfeeding, daycare, homeschool, vaccines, sleep training, and a million other decisions we make every day. It can also be intensely lonely and disorientating as you try to figure out who you are in this new role.

The show highlights the peaks and valleys of parenthood, reminding us that we are not alone in this uphill journey. In our most vulnerable moments it's reassuring to remember that each mom is different, yet we're united by the sheer fact that we now love this little person more than we could ever have imagined.

Don't Miss the Show

For more information about The Phoenix Theatre, visit www.phoenixtheatre.org. The theater is located at 705 N Illinois St, Indianapolis, IN 46204.

Performances: The show runs until Aug. 26 and offers four performances a week. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday shows begin at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday matinees are at 2:30 p.m.

Tickets: To purchase tickets, call (317) 635-7529 or visit phoenixtheatre.org. Prices range from $33 to $37.

Photos courtesy of Zach Rosing.


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