I told you so. Last year, when I saw Molly Smith Metzler’s Cry It Out at the Humana Festival in Louisville, I said its topical content and efficient structure were sure to earn it a berth in somebody’s subscription season. Sure enough, here it is at Northlight Theatre, its virtues intact.
The play gives us four new parents living in close proximity to one another on Long Island. There’s corporate lawyer Jessie, traumatized by her daughter’s touch-and-go birth and thinking she might extend her maternity leave into permanent stay-at-home status. She befriends hospital worker Lina, who’s also on leave but hasn’t the means even to consider quitting her job. Literally over their heads, on a bluff where houses sell for $10 million, live entrepreneur Mitchell and haute jewelry designer Adrienne, whom parenthood has simply thrown for a loop.
Metzler lays out their interactions in ways that are formulaic (e.g., the Goldilocks distribution of wealth: rich, poor, right in the middle) without feeling predictable. She allows Lina and Jessie a funny, homey relationship yet doesn’t ignore the real gulf between them. Mitchell and Adrienne are interestingly at odds, not only in their desires but in their fundamental perceptions of what’s going on. All four are hobbled by a social order that idealizes parenthood without making it feasible.
Jessica Fisch’s staging is as deft as the script, thanks in large part to Laura Lapidus’s complex Lina and Darci Nalepa’s anguished but never maudlin Jessie. Kristina Valada-Viars runs stunningly from mean-girl churlishness to pure thunder as Adrienne, while Gabriel Ruiz rings variations on discomfort as Mitchell. Andrew Boyce’s set and Paul Toben’s lighting find nuance in a suburban backyard. v