I feel like a broken record lately. So much of the media I’ve consumed in recent months has been focusing on new motherhood, and it makes me feel seen and like I’m not alone. Because when you have a baby in the winter, it can feel isolating, and hard to get out there with your new one and interact with other moms. Last weekend, the Boy and I went out to the theater, and we saw a show that spoke very clearly to my experience, and for the first time, the Boy was there too to see and witness it.
The show is Cry It Out, and it’s currently playing at Studio Theatre on 14th Street in DC. I’d first heard about the show because the husband of a designer/blogger I follow had appeared in a production of the show in LA and she recommended it. And then it showed up in the 2018/19 season preview brochure that Studio sent to our house in the mail. I pointed it out to the Boy, and he seemed up for it considering the timeliness of the topic.
And then we got to the show, and I just felt my heart onstage for 90 minutes. Rarely have I found myself watching something that spoke to me so closely and personally. The play takes place in the space between yards where two new mothers are both able to have their baby monitors reach, and the two young women make the beginnings of a friendship over coffee. The fumbling attempts at friendship between the two who had been eyeing each other for a while before just felt so deeply personal. Trying to find other new moms with babies around the same age as yours who might be your friend is such a complicated thing. As the play shows, things like class, education and lifestyle might not matter so much when you’ve got the most important aspect: location location location. Having a friend RIGHT NEXT DOOR can change things.
But I digress – the play focuses on these two moms, and then a rich couple with a new baby whose house looks down on the other two women. From the three women we get a look at the different strata of American lives and women – working class, upper-middle class, and the 1%. We see how different women can want different things in a work-life balance, but also what the expectations are at each level. How no matter what you’re doing it feels like people are judging you (and sometimes they plainly are judging you). How you have to make hard choices about things like childcare and work, and sometimes there is no good answer.
Anyways – the show is terrific. The Boy and I particularly loved the performance of Dina Thomas as Lina, the working class mom. She was so brash, and at the same time so vulnerable. And in her final scene, she is so raw and open that your heart just breaks for her. The rest of the cast is terrific too, and the brief performance by Tessa Klein as rich mommy Adrienne was so shocking, and wonderfully portrayed in a way where your jaw just sort of drops afterwards. It didn’t hurt that her character has to wear a wrist-guard throughout due to complications after the baby, and that’s something that happened to me too, and I’ve NEVER SEEN THAT ANYWHERE!
I think I’m not doing this show justice in this post. Yes – it spoke deeply to me as a new mom. And I think the Boy perhaps has slightly more of an understanding of what I went through (and sometimes am still going through?) because someone else was voicing things I have tried and failed to explain to him. But I think it could even speak to non-new-mothers by showing that we are not all a monolith – that different women want different things, and you can’t make assumptions based solely on the fact that someone has just had a baby. It also speaks to the expectations that are thrust upon women in this very tender stage of life, and how difficult it is to live up to them. In any case – if you have the chance and are in the DC area, it’s a lovely show, and is well worth your time. Especially if you are or love a new mom.
Details: Cry It Out, by Molly Smith Metzler, at Studio Theatre, 1501 14th Street NW, Washington, DC 20005. Through December 16.