Theater Review: CRY IT OUT (Moxie Theatre, San Diego)

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by Milo Shapiro on August 22, 2023

in Theater-Regional,Theater-San Diego


You know that close friend or relative you have who can talk about the most trivial stuff in their world and you’ll still ask leading questions for more details? Like, “So what did you do when the can opener wouldn’t go all the way around?” But if someone else told you the story, you’d be thinking, “For God’s sake, who cares about your can opener?” Some plays are full of big plot twists and constant swerves; some are more like that friend … where not much actually happens, but you’re still fully invested. That’s Cry It Out at Moxie Theatre. And because of that, it might be hard for this tight, gripping little story to get a following; it almost defies sounding interesting as one describes it. But it is.

Cry It Out is primarily the story of two new neighbors with adjoining backyards in the Long Island town of Port Washington, where economic status varies severely by a matter of blocks (like City Heights bordering on Kensington in San Diego). Sweet, big-hearted Jessie (Katee Drysdale) is a successful attorney who is enjoying maternity leave so much that returning to work feels gut-wrenching since she and her husband could potentially live on his good income.

Sassy and more street-wise Lina (Kylie Young) is likewise loving her baby-bonding time, dreading her unquestionable return to work as a low-level hospital employee because her partner John is doing a job he loves but making “after taxes, zero.” The two are an unlikely match as friends, but their proximity and in-sort-of-the-same-boat situation quickly bonds them. It also gives them each a chance to recognize how different their predicaments are, as Jessie has more options while Lina and John live with his alcoholic mother, just trying to stay afloat. The power that money has over our lives and the choices we make for our children is a constant theme.

Added to the mix is an affluent couple living uphill from the pair, close enough that “we look down on you” is both literal and figurative. Mitchell (Alex Guzman) desperately wants his wife Adrienne (Leah Morgan) to become friends with the pair, hoping that some of their love of maternity will rub off on Adrienne. The decision of whether to risk their sacred coffee time together, to include this stranger, is no small choice for the duo and the results lead us to learn far more about all four.

The play’s title is a reference to the term for the controversial day when parents let the child cry until they finally give up, exhausted, drained, and (arguably) brokenhearted that no one is coming. The two women discuss this notion as it applies to their babies, Allie and Max, but it could just as easily apply to each of them.

Playwright Molly Smith Metzler (creator of the Netflix series, Maid) won the LA Drama Critics Circle Aware for Outstanding Playwriting for this play, which director Vanessa Duron paces beautifully to create tension, humor, and pathos. Young’s Lina gets the most laughs with her edgy, lower-class ways but steals nothing from Drysdale’s multi-level performance as the slightly more focal character.

Cry It Out is a lovely and touching insight into the conflicted world of working mothers, who so often see their situations as lose/lose; it’s a conundrum where there’s always sacrifice and regret, no matter what choice is made. Not surprisingly, numerous attendees (okay, numerous women) in the audience seemed emotionally moved by the end, overheard delving into their memories of their difficult transition time in going back to work and their angst over daycare. Metzler’s plot and words, coupled with Duron’s tone choices and some solid acting, touch the right nerve for some worthy thought and discussion.

photos by Daren Scott

Cry It Out
Moxie Theatre
6663 El Cajon Blvd. Suite N – San Diego CA 92115
Thurs at 7:30; Fri & Sat at 8; Sun at 2
ends on Sept 10, 2023
for tickets, call 858-598-7620 or visit Moxie Theatre

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