Motherhood is a difficult task, and it’s only recently that we’ve started to realize this and talk about it, rather than just let women suffer through on their own, assuming they’ll be fine – women have done this since the start of time, so how hard can it be, right? In Molly Smith Metzler’s intelligent and touching Cry It Out, mother’s lives are given center-stage treatment, and we see how parenthood affects three very different women.
Jessie (Clea Alsip) has recently moved to Long Island with her husband and baby; she’s on maternity leave from work and desperate for adult conversation, so invites her neighbor, new mother Lina (Andrea Syglowski) over to chat. Lina is on maternity leave as well, so the two women bond while their children nap, despite their differences – Jessie is an upper-class lawyer from Chicago while Lina is unmarried, working a blue-collar job and living with her boyfriend and his mother to save money. Mitchell (Greg Keller) arrives one morning and pleads with the women: his wife Adrienne (Janie Brookshire) has just had a baby – could she possibly join their group? But when Adrienne arrives, the two women react very differently to her, and Adrienne’s experience of motherhood is on a whole other level.
David L. Arsenault’s scenic design for this production is utterly stunning. He’s transformed the stage into the backyard of Jessie’s home, with grass, a hill with realistic grass and leaves, trees, a fence, homes in the background – it’s one of the most realistic sets I’ve seen in a long time and I was just in awe.
Director Marc Masterson’s work here is subtle but intense; the set isn’t the only thing here that’s completely realistic. This isn’t a big, loud show – this is a quiet show, showing us these women’s truth, and in doing so, showing us our truth. Everything happening on this stage is so honest and so raw and the performances Masterson got from these actors was exquisite.
Alsip is soft as Jessie, a strong woman made humble by circumstance; she still has fire, but she’s transferred it over to her motherhood, and being the best she can be for her child. Syglowski is our comic relief here, but her story is also a serious one, and the friendship between the two women is so believable and honest – kudos to the actresses, playwright, and director for how beautifully their bond comes across. Brookshire shows us another side of motherhood, and has a monologue that absolutely guts us; Keller (as the literal odd man out here) does solid work dealing with his own parenting issues.
This is a show that doesn’t have to shout to get its message across; it hits home on so many levels and it’s such a strong, accurate portrayal of what women face when dealing with motherhood today. Strong writing, acting and directing have come together here to create some definite theater magic, and I’m so glad I was able to witness it.
“Cry It Out”; Dorset Theatre Festival, 104 Cheney Road, Dorset, VT; through July 14; $58-$48, Run time: 90 minutes;(802) 867-2223; https://dorsettheatrefestival.org/