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Cooped up on maternity leave and eager for conversation, Jessie invites the funny and forthright Lina for coffee in their neighboring backyards. They become fast friends, quickly bonding over their shared “new mom” experience—and arousing the interest of a wealthy neighbor hoping for a similar connection. This insightful comedy takes an honest look at the absurdities of new motherhood, the dilemma of returning to work versus staying at home, and how class impacts parenthood and friendship.
Photos by Michael Brosilow
by Chris Jones
May 20, 2018
Attention new parents: ‘Cry It Out’ at Northlight is worth the price of a sitter
New parents are notoriously difficult to attract to the theater and the reasons are obvious: Sitters add greatly to the cost and hassle of an evening and, in my experience anyway, a fun and loving baby is always the best performer in town.
But “Cry It Out” at the Northlight Theatre is a special kind of show.
It’s not only empathetic and enjoyable writing, it all rings utterly true, especially in a warm and kind production directed by Jessica Fisch and stacked with four quiet but beautiful performances.
The writing achieves a number of very notable things: It expresses and honors the diversity of reactions to the disruptive arrival of a baby; it observes that there are no right answers; it captures how this particular part of being human puts the most demands on you when you are least able to deal with them. But what impressed me the most about “Cry It Out” was how compassionately it understands how much the decisions couples make together (or single parents make for themselves) in those early weeks affect the later footprint of their lives. You just don’t fully know that at the time.
The acting really is impressive here: Everyone is honest and vulnerable, but there is something about what Lapidus is doing that is really remarkable. She captures a loving, lower-middle-class mother in such a way that you see the fun she gets out of life, her enormous capacity for love and the sheer weight of American inequality.
“Cry It Out” is often funny, but it’s a very emotional show. It’s about a time in life when we’re all confronted with a sudden rush of love, when our priorities get recentered in the blink of an eye, an eye that does not belong to ourselves. It’s about an avalanche of affection, responsibility, fear and self-doubt.
I liked it so much I wanted to set up a day-care in the lobby. As I said, best show in town.
by Catey Sullivan
May 21, 2018
Motherhood conversations ring true in Northlight’s funny, emotional ‘Cry It Out’
Memo to new dads: You don’t deserve a cookie or a gold star just because you decide to take paternity leave. Especially if you are able to take it while still drawing a full salary that pays for a full-time nanny, cook, family assistant and a hilltop mansion near the ocean.
This seems to come as a surprise to Mitchell (Gabriel Ruiz), the wealthy new dad in “Cry It Out,” Molly Smith Metzler’s comedy now enjoying its Chicago premiere at Northlight Theatre. He beams with button-bursting pride telling new mom Jessie (Darci Nalepa) he’s going to be a stay-at-home-dad. Mitchell owns his company. Jessie can’t even get unpaid leave. He deflates into a confused pout when Jessie doesn’t fawn over what an extraordinary father he is.
Metzler doesn’t hold back depicting the blatant inequities of a system where some new parents can stay home indefinitely with babies and others face penury if they don’t get back to work before the placenta cools. But “Cry It Out” is about more than the socio-economics or the gender politics of maternity/paternity leave.
In 90 minutes, director Jessica Fisch creates a vivid, specific portrayal of the joys and hair-tearing, mind-numbing agonies – mental, physical and financial – many new mothers face. If you loved the movie “Waitress” (it ends as a new mom veritably glows with the miraculous realization that she has found her life’s one, true purpose.), you’ll probably be alarmed — and grossed out — by “Cry It Out.” It’s a story of love, but it’s also about anger, stress, unfairness, loss and the ravages of breastfeeding.
by Barbara Vitello
May 23, 2018
New mothers face hard choices in Northlight Theatre’s ‘Cry It Out’
When it comes to kids and careers, there’s rarely a perfect choice,” opined a newsroom veteran who well recalls those heady days as a new mom full of emotion, overcome by exhaustion and bedeviled by uncertainty.
Playwright Molly Smith Metzler (writer/co-producer for Showtime’s “Shameless”) chronicles the experiences (and the choices) of three first-time moms (and one dad) in “Cry It Out,” which premiered last year at the Humana Festival of New American Plays and is currently running at Skokie’s Northlight Theatre.
Metzler addresses with candor, humor, empathy and even fury the challenges new mothers face: from breast-feeding and sleep training to dealing with spouses and in-laws. Her play also takes on what may be the most pressing challenge — whether to return to work or stay home with the baby, a choice that often depends on one’s position on the economic ladder.
The result is a comedy that is both incisive and compassionate. Affectionately directed by Jessica Fisch, “Cry It Out” is sweet but not mawkish. Moreover, it feels authentic, especially in Metzler’s refusal to shy away from that universal truth: the larger your bank balance, the greater your options.
CHICAGO THEATRE REVIEW
by Colin Douglas
May 19, 2018
A Bundle of Joy
Molly Smith Metzler, a mother herself, wrote this cathartic, somewhat autobiographical play based on her own personal experiences. The characters talk about the realities of first-time parenting, including the isolation, the lack of sleep, the sore breasts and the welcome entertainment to be found in simply visiting the convenience store or the library preschool story hour. The playwright has described her one-act as being similar to a choral piece played by a chamber orchestra in which the voices of the four characters speak individually, yet also beautifully harmonize to create one sensitive and satisfying story about 21st century motherhood.
This Chicago production, staged by guest director Jessica Fisch, offers an authentic, sensitive, often humorous female point-of-view of motherhood. As the two women share stories about their newborns, listen to each other’s maternal woes and offer advice for making this most important time of their lives richer and more meaningful, Fisch makes the story more intimate, bringing it into the lap of her audience. Staged on Andrew Boyce’s hyperrealistic backyard setting, complete with the backdoor entryway of Jessie’s house, a grassy yard and a garden patio, we feel like we’re in an actual suburban community. The production’s made even more authentic through Paul Tobin’s natural lighting and Kevin O’Donnell’s evocative sound design, particularly his delightful pre-show symphony of children’s songs.
In today’s world, overshadowed by lying government representatives and disappointing political power plays and payoffs, it’s refreshing to focus on a play featuring more domestic issues. Motherhood hasn’t always been given a fair shake, especially when we hear about cuts in maternity benefits and early childhood education. We also tend to think that, while a man can get up, go to work and come home to his wife and baby, the woman’s role should be a no-brainer. She’s carried the child for nine months, has given birth and then, especially nowadays, heads right back to work. Any quality time spent between mother and child is deemed as the lazy, comfortable way out for a woman. Most husbands feel that their wives ought to return to the workforce as quickly as possible. Molly Smith Metzler’s thought-provoking play, with it’s many comic moments, sheds new light on this whole situation and the result is a bouncing, bundle of joy.
Laura previously appeared at the North Shore Center as Daphna in Theater Wit’s Bad Jews. She later reprised the role in other productions at DC’s Studio Theatre and New Jersey’s George Street Playhouse. Other credits include Stay Lit (Steppenwolf LookOut Series); Balm in Gilead, Golden Boy, Port (Griffin Theatre); The Seagull (The Artistic Home); Pains of Youth (Odradek/Oracle); and breaks & bikes (Pavement Group). Film/Television: Chicago PD, The Two (co-writer, producer). She holds a BFA in Acting from the University of Michigan. Laura is the winner of a 2018-19 Fulbright Award and will pursue a Masters in Classical Acting at LAMDA this fall. This one is for Ghita.
A proud ensemble member of Teatro Vista, Chicago credits include You Got Older, The Rembrandt, The Way West, How Long Will I Cry? and The Motherfucker with the Hat (Steppenwolf); Native Gardens (Victory Gardens); Agamemnon and Man in the Ring (Court); Arcadia and Company (Writers); City of Angels and Singin’ in the Rain (Marriott); The Upstairs Concierge (Goodman); The Wolf at the End of the Block and White Tie Ball (Teatro Vista); Creditor (Remy Bumppo); Sita Ram (Chicago Children’s Choir); Working: The Musical (Broadway Playhouse); Richard III and Short Shakespeare! A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Chicago Shakespeare) and Arabian Nights (Lookingglass). His regional credits include Native Gardens (Cincinatti Playhouse), Harvey (Milwaukee Repertory Theatre), Why Torture is Wrong, and the People Who Love Them (Forward Theatre Company), and Blood and Gifts (Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, New York). He has composed music and lyrics for Don Chipotle performed at DCASE, and Epic Tale of Scale for Chicago Children’s Theater. He has appeared on television in Boss, APB, Electric Dreams, Chicago Fire, Chicago Justice, and Chicago PD.
Darci is thrilled to be working with this stellar team at Northlight Theatre. She is a proud ensemble member of The Gift Theatre where she has appeared in A Swell In the Ground, A Life Extra Ordinary, and Good for Otto. Other Chicago credits include: Queen (Victory Gardens), Kill Floor (American Theatre Company), Northanger Abbey (Remy Bumppo), and The Drunken City (Steppenwolf). Darci appeared in Stephen Cone’s film Henry Gamble’s Birthday Party and is the co-creator of the upcoming web series The Force. Television credits include Patriot, Shameless and Chicago Fire. She is a graduate of The School at Steppenwolf and proudly works as an Instructor at Black Box Acting. Darci is represented by Gray Talent Group. For Cyd, Sarah-Jayne and Robin.
Kristina is a theatre artist living in Chicago. As an actor and director, her work has been primarily devoted to new work development and first and second productions of new American plays. Most recently, she was seen in Steppenwolf for Young Audience’s production of The Crucible, the independent web series The Force, and served as Assistant Director on The Doppleganger (Steppenwolf). Acting credits include: Steppenwolf (Jeff Nomination, Time Stands Still), Goodman, New Dramatists, The New Group, 13P, Writers, Theater Wit, Route 66, About Face. Film/TV: Molly’s Girl (Best Actress in a Feature, Iris Prize), Black Box, Shameless, Empire. She is an activist, freelance writer, teacher and a member of the Chicago Green Theatre Alliance. She is working to foster artist-led exchange with performer based communities outside of traditional commercial theatre circuit cities and actively works to expand casting boundaries within traditional narrative forms. She is the recipient of the 2017 Princess Grace Award and Fellowship in residence with Steppenwolf Theatre Company for the 2017-2018 season.
Molly Smith Metzler
Molly is the author of Cry it Out, Elemeno Pea, The May Queen, Carve, Training Wisteria and Close Up Space. Regional: Actors Theatre of Louisville/Humana Festival, South Coast Repertory, The Kennedy Center, The O’Neill National Playwrights Conference, Chautauqua Theater Company, City Theatre, Play Makers Rep, Geva Theatre Center, and many more. Off-Broadway: Manhattan Theatre Club. Metzler’s awards include the Lecomte du Nouy Prize from Lincoln Center, the National Student Playwriting Award from The Kennedy Center, the Association for Theatre in Higher Education’s David Mark Cohen Award, the Mark Twain Comedy Prize, and a finalist nod for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. She is currently under commission at Manhattan Theatre Club and South Coast Repertory. In television, Metzler has written for Casual (Hulu), Orange Is the New Black (Netflix), Codes of Conduct (HBO), and is currently a writer/co-producer on Shameless (Showtime). She is also a screenwriter, currently adapting Ali Benjamin’s award-winning novel The Thing About Jellyfishinto a film for OddLot and Pacific Standard (Reese Witherspoon’s company). Metzler was educated at SUNY Geneseo, Boston University, New York University’s Tisch School for the Arts, and The Juilliard School. She lives in Los Angeles.
Recent credits: You Across From Me (Actors Theatre of Louisville, Humana Festival); Late Company (Cor Theatre); The Firebirds Take The Field (Rivendell); Straight White Men (Associate Director, Steppenwolf); Trudy, Carolyn, Martha and Regina Travel to Outer Space (Actors Theatre of Louisville, Humana Festival); The Rosenkranz Mysteries: An Evening of Magic (The Royal George); Fefu and Her Friends (Goodman /Rivendell Latinx Celebration); Opulent Complex and That Thing That Time (Actors Theatre of Louisville, The Tens); Psychodramatic (A Red Orchid, Incubator Series); Traces (Feast Productions/Jackalope). Select New York credits: The Realm (The Wild Project); strive/seek/find (Abingdon Theatre); the 2009 Playwrights Horizons’ Stories on 5 Stories Benefit, Personal History (Ensemble Studio Theatre); The Redheaded Man (Barrow Street Theatre/Fringe NYC/Fringe Encores); Dressed In Your Dreams (Public Theater/Emerging Writers Group); and an adaptation of the cult 1960’s gothic vampire soap opera Dark Shadows (Williamstown Theatre Festival). Jessica was a resident director at Ensemble Studio Theater, the Playwrights Horizons Directing Resident, and a member of the Lincoln Center Directors Lab. MFA: Northwestern University. www.JessicaFisch.com
Chicago: Goodman, Writers, American Theater Company, Victory Gardens. New York: Lincoln Center Theater, Roundabout, Primary Stages, Atlantic Theater Company, Playwrights Realm, etc. Regional: Actors Theatre of Louisville, American Conservatory Theater, American Players, Alliance, Baltimore Centerstage, Long Wharf, Mark Taper Forum, Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Old Globe, Oregon Shakespeare Theater, Portland Center Stage, and Yale Repertory Theater, among many others. MFA, Yale School of Drama. Currently Assistant Professor of Set Design at Northwestern University. www.andrewboycedesign.
Chicago: Stories and Songs of Chicago (Lyric Opera Unlimited); T. (American Theatre Company); The Firebirds Take the Field, Winter (Rivendell); Marry Me a Little (Porchlight); Betrayal (Raven); How We Got On (Haven Theatre); Good for Otto (The Gift); In the Penal Colony (Chicago Fringe Opera); Posh (Steep). Regional: The Marriage of Figaro (Wolftrap Opera); Carmen, The Magic Flute, The Rake’s Progress (Music Academy of the West). Assistant/Associate: Sweeney Todd (Kansas City Rep); Trevor (Writers); A Funny Thing… (MUNY); The Year I Didn’t Go to School (Chicago Children’s Theatre), Rusalka (Metropolitan Opera); Out of Shadowland (Disney Tokyo Sea); Mary Page Marlowe, East of Eden (Steppenwolf); The White Snake (Goodman, Old Globe, Guthrie). Proud member of USA829; MFA from Northwestern University. stephanie-cluggish.com.
Chicago: The Mystery of Love and Sex (Writers), Electra (Court), The Firebirds Take the Field (Rivendell). Regional: Angels in America Parts 1 and 2, Peter and the Starcatcher and many more (Actor’s Theatre of Louisville); five seasons of the Humana Festival including Evocation to Visible Appearance, Airness, The Grown-Up, and The Roommate; NSFW (Roundhouse); Silent Sky, Triangle, Upright Grand (TheatreWorks); Fly by Night, Medea, School for Wives (Dallas Theater Center); The Who and the What (Kansas City Rep); Daddy Long Legs (New York, regional and international premieres); Another Way Home (The Magic Theatre); and Caravan Man, Demon Dreams (Williamstown Theatre Festival). Broadway: The Story of My Life. Off-Broadway: The Judy Show (DR2), Saturn Nights (Incubator Arts Project), Electra in a One Piece and The Realm (The Wild Project), The Redheaded Man (Fringe Encores) and many more. www.paultoben.com.
Kevin is thrilled be back at Northlight where previous credits include The Legend of Georgia McBride, Miss Bennet, You Can’t Take it With You, The Lady with All the Answers, and Inherit the Wind. As a composer and sound designer he has received 10 Jeff Awards (20 nominations), and is a company member with The House Theatre. Locally he has worked with Steppenwolf, Chicago Shakespeare, Lookingglass, Court, and many others. Regionally: The Pasadena Playhouse, The Southern Rep, Le Petite Theatre, The Seattle Rep, The Signature Theatre, The Olney Theatre Center, The Adrienne Arscht Center of Miami, and others. He is also a drummer.
Rita is proud to continue her 11th season at Northlight where she is fortunate to have been the stage manager for 29 productions as well as two trips to Galway. Recent credits elsewhere in the Chicagoland area include productions at Theatre at the Center (Munster, IN), Victory Gardens, Route 66 Theatre Company, Goodman, and the annual Christmas Schooner at the Mercury Theater. She is the proud wife of actor Tom Hickey and mom to five-year-old Charlie, and has been a member of Actors’ Equity for over 17 years. Thank you for supporting live theatre!
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