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Shadowland Stages - Cry It Out - “An Important Work of Art”

Bill Moloney - Columnist
Posted 10/8/19

Early motherhood in all its glory, happiness, and bliss is explored and turned upside down in Shadowland Stages production of “Cry It Out”. Local playwright Molly Smith Metzler's candidly written …

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Shadowland Stages - Cry It Out - “An Important Work of Art”

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Early motherhood in all its glory, happiness, and bliss is explored and turned upside down in Shadowland Stages production of “Cry It Out”. Local playwright Molly Smith Metzler's candidly written script is a no nonsense thought-provoking look into the sometimes gut wrenching, emotional roller coaster that is motherhood. This isn't to say that the script plunges us into the depths of despair. Quite the contrary, her dialog is cleverly witty and the chit chat between these young moms is often hilarious. The plight of single moms is well known in society and still isn't given the notice it deserves. However, this play delves into how extremely difficult it is for almost all mothers. Whether rich, poor or anywhere in between, there are struggles that plague even the seemingly most “perfect” of couples.

Set in a modest Long Island back yard, new moms Jessie and Lina meet with baby monitors in hand to discuss the daily struggles of maternal bliss. With coffee cups filled, they sit on plastic kid's outdoor slides and picnic table and kibitz the morning away, that is, until someone's baby monitor announces a waking infant.

Their conversations run the gamut between paying the bills, daycare, going back to work or not, husbands, and most especially that there aren't always clear cut answers to any of the above. The introduction of a neighboring husband and wife soon throw class disparities into the mix and even then, the lines become quite blurred once we learn a bit more about the players. Yes, appearances are not always as they seem and Ms. Smith Metzler resonates this theme in her characterizations.

Director Brendan Burke has a way with grabbing you at the very beginning and keeping you hooked. His relaxed approach to the characters' introductions is light hearted and fun. Lots of laughs make you love them, but soon Burke's direction keys in on the emotional depth behind the playwright's words and you feel for them; their struggles, their worries and their lives.

Carolyn Holding as the kind suburbanite mother Jessie radiates enormous appeal as a decent human being and good friend to Lina. But the best part of her performance is that of naive privileged buddy to a pal who boasts having an “entry level” job at the hospital. It's clear that Ms. Holding's Jessie has no idea how she sounds at times and that makes for a wonderful performance. Cassandra Dupler's brash and unsophisticated Lina keeps us in stitches early in the show. Her working class street girl personality comes through with a joyful exuberance. Like her co-star, Ms. Dupler wows us in the quieter moments; when she comes face to face with her own personal limitations. Watching these two actresses get to know each other on stage is a breath of fresh air.

Married neighbors Mitchell (played by Brett Owen) and Adrienne (played by Amanda Ferguson) enter the lives of Jessie and Lina and throw a wrench into a few preconceived conventions. Mr. Owen and Ms. Ferguson give the audience the wealthy couple who both have careers. At first coming off as a somewhat typical lofty rich duo, these actors take Ms. Smith-Metzler's words and turn their stories into something profound. It's an interesting addition to the story begun by Jessie and Lina, but it opens up another world. A world and a group defined by class that usually isn't allowed any slack or understanding.

Jonathan Wentz's set epitomizes the close quartered backyards of a typical Long Island neighborhood complete with wooden privacy fence and vinyl sided duplex.

This Shadowland Stages production shines the spotlight on the struggles of all new mothers and portrays quite concisely the stresses and pressures they face. Playwright Molly Smith Metzler is to be applauded for such an important work of art. Let's face it. The difficult and often draining decisions made by these women have effected every single one of us on this planet! When you're done reading this, Thank your Mom!

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