This one-act play hits home with the crush for new mothers after birth. In the six weeks after birth, everything changes: work, sleep, relationships, friendships and neighbors. Oh yes, and then, mothers have to go back to work. Right. Did I mention that emotions change a lot? This play covers it all in a real and provocative way.
“Cry it out” is a real child rearing method designed to train a baby’s sleep patterns. The theory is that the baby will cry until he or she goes to sleep naturally. While the theory is discussed briefly in the beginning of the play for characters’ babies, the play actually allows the parents to “cry it out” to communicate their many challenges.
In the play, Jessie (played by Ilana Niernberger) has just had her baby. Lina (played by Amanda Vitiello) has also just had her baby. They meet in the “neutral zone” between their neighboring houses and immediately join together to survive their new worlds.
Their children have brought them together from very different worlds: Jessie works as an attorney in Manhattan while Lina works as a nurse. Coffee is an essential ingredient to their soon-daily meetings and sharing sessions. Between putting their babies down for naps and responding to cries for mothers’ milk, we get to know their inner lives and frustrations.
In time, another neighbor, Mitchell (played by Andrew Patton), asks if his wife can join them to help with her problems dealing with her own new-borne baby. Mitchell’s wife Adrienne (played by Kellie Donnelly) joins them, but is aloof and unfriendly. Adrienne brings entirely new parenting issues to the discussion.
Niernberger characterizes the trials and postpartum of having her new baby as a suburban mother torn between love and work. Vitiello has different reactions with a survival mentality and unmarried status of her motherhood. Donnelly illustrates how a very difficult pregnancy can be traumatic after the ordeal. Each character is defined very realistically for our new world. Director Molly Noble has created a good balance between the actors, letting them rage and laugh and cry through their own “cry it out” roles.
The single set by Sharlyn Klein is a very realistic suburban back yard, complete with leaves and baby toys. The small set is the perfect shared space for the three moms to gather. Lighting by Wayne Hovey is perfect for the different scenes.
Cinnabar Theatre cast and crew and house are fully vaccinated for COVID-19; masks are required for all audience; reservations are for 100% of house.
“Cry It Out” continues at Cinnabar Theatre 3333 Petaluma Blvd N., Petaluma, CA 94952 through September 26, 2021 (Streaming on Demand September 24-26, 2021).
For further information and reservations: https://cinnabartheater.org/
Rating: *** 1/2
Gary Gonser is a member of the SF Bay Area Theatre Critics’ Circle.
“Cry It Out,” by Molly Smith Metzler, produced by Cinnabar Theatre. Director: Molly Noble, Set Designer: Sharlyn Klein, Light Designer: Wayne Hovey, Costume Designer: Donnie Frank, Stage Manager: Ross Tiffany Brown.
Cast: Ilana Neirnberger as Jessie, Amanda Vitiello as Lina, Andrew Patton as Mitchell, Kellie Donnelly as Adrienne.