Two young mothers with newborns form a friendship that soon encompasses distinctions in class, education, income, and aspirations in “Cry It Out” at Cinnabar Theatre through September 26.
Elegantly conceived by playwright Molly Smith Metzger, the production centers around two Long Island neighbors, Jessie (Ilana Niernberger) and Lina (Amanda Vitiello), both on maternity leave with babies at home, a similarity that enables a quickly-formed deep bond. They share afternoon coffee, tidbits on baby care—the show’s title is derived from a popular theory that babies put to bed should be allowed to cry until they go back to sleep—and many personal misgivings and misadventures, some of them laugh-out-loud funny.
A working-class girl with attitude as strong as her New Jersey accent, Lina is a comic riot as she describes her travails not only with her baby but with her underachieving husband and his alcoholic mother, who serves as nanny when Lina goes out. Jessie is the more contained of the two—contemplative and methodical, an attorney considering leaving her profession to be a stay-at-home mom. Both women have problems with their husbands, whom we never meet.
…director Molly Noble extracts delicious performances from four exquisitely talented but hugely differing actors…
Into their midst comes a nerdy neighbor, Mitchell (Andrew Patton), awkwardly inquiring if his wife, also a recent mom, might join them. Once they get over the creepiness of the fact that he’s been watching them, they agree to welcome Adrienne (Kellie Donnelly), a haughty disdainful designer with little interest in raising children or socializing with others who are. Mitchell’s well-intentioned intervention is a desperate nudge in the wrong direction, fireworks to follow.
It’s a fantastically potent setup, with increasingly satisfying payoffs as the story progresses. The quick-moving one-act segues seamlessly from comedy to drama as director Molly Noble extracts delicious performances from four exquisitely talented but hugely differing actors. Their differences as performers and the differences between their characters expand the dynamic possibilities of this show far beyond what an audience might expect when first viewing the simple set of a suburban backyard patio.
“Cry It Out” is a master class in elegant modest-budget theater. North Bay residents are privileged to have such sterling performances so close to home. As with most Bay Area theater companies, Cinnabar requires proof of vaccination at the door, and the wearing of masks during the performance. Attendees also get a sticker that says “Welcome Back!” to which we can only reply “Welcome Back, Cinnabar!” Those who can’t get to the theater may also view a streaming production.
ASR Nor Cal Edition Executive Editor Barry Willis is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association and president of the SF Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
|Production||"Cry It Out"|
|Written by||Molly Smith Metzger
|Directed by||Molly Noble|
|Producing Company||Cinnabar Theater|
|Production Dates||Through Sept. 26th|
|Production Address||3333 Petaluma Blvd North
Petaluma, CA 94952
|Tickets||$25 – $35|
|Reviewer Score||Max in each category is 5/5|
|Aisle Seat Review PICK?||YES!|