Our first show of the Humana Play Festival was Cry it Out by Molly Smith Metzler, directed by Davis McCallum. Twin Cities audiences had the chance to see Metzler’s Elemenopea at Mixed Blood a few years ago (the same season Park Square Theatre produced Lydia Diamond’s Stick Fly and we first worked with the amazing Jamil Jude).
Almost the whole Park Square gang heading into the first show of the festival.
Metzler’s new show features the same well realized characters — this time all young parents — crisp dialogue and “finger on the pulse” relevance. Just read a few mommy blogs and you’ll see how deep the divide can be between moms who choose to continue their careers after having their first child, and those who choose (and can afford) to make the financial sacrifice to stay home. Metzler turns what could be an online bitch fest into a riveting and very funny play.
Jessie and Lena, each with newborns, start meeting in their shared back yard to get some adult conversation. From the woes of breast feeding to the choice to let a newborn “cry it out” at night to dealing with the expectations of in-laws, this show reveals these women sharply and tenderly. Hilariously. Movingly.
The class issues (Lena lives with her drunk mother-in-law to save money; Jessie is on leave from a law career in the city) ramp up when the rich couple on the cliff enters the scene (“we look down on you…Wait, that didn’t sound right”). From people who have to work third shift to be home when their baby is awake to couples who hire nannies with masters degrees in early childhood development, we see how much one’s resources can shape every moment of a baby’s life.
I was disappointed in how this show ended (like many new shows, it felt more like it stopped than ended), but the journey was so worthwhile, I can forgive that.
Even if you’ve never had a baby, you can recognize the human moments we’ve all experienced. Sharing too much with a stranger because somehow you can’t talk to the people you love. The funny, joyous realization that you’re not crazy — other people feel like that too. And the wonderful chance to let your hair down about the things “no one” talks about. And who can resist lines like “am I the crazy neighbor? Oh, no, I’m somebody’s crazy neighbor!” or “men think they’re in charge and then you have a baby. Then the vaginas are in charge!”
I’d love to see this show on the Boss Stage, where you can literally be in the back yard and smell the endless cups of coffee these neighbors share. And it was delicious to imagine all the casting choices for the three compelling, richly drawn young women.
So far, we’re off to a great start!