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“Cry It Out” Is Safe, Enjoyable, Thoughtful Fun In Saratoga

Molly Lotano
Lina (Siobhan Shea) shares coffee with Jesse (Elizabeth Pietrangelo).

SARATOGA SPRINGS – My description of the perfect fall day is sitting outdoors in a public park watching talented performers in a play that is funny, wise and thought provoking.

I had that experience last Saturday afternoon. Home Made Theater offered a terrific live production of “Cry It Out,” outdoors next to the Little Theatre in Saratoga State Park. You can have the same experience this weekend. “Cry It Out” runs at 3 pm. this Saturday and Sunday It will also be live streamed Sunday, October 4. 

Even if it wasn’t the only live theater available in the area, “Cry It Out” would be a must-see show. Performed without an intermission it runs just short of two-hours. In that time-frame tells a universal story about the choices with which new parents are faced.

In so doing, it illustrates how economic status plays an important role in making those choices. It does this without making judgements or condemning those who make choices we are not pleased with. Neither does it attack those with privilege, nor does it play favorites for those whose choices are economically limited.

Two new first-time mothers who live next to each other on Long Island find themselves becoming close friends as they share daily coffee in a back yard. Jesse is an upper-middle class corporate lawyer who loves, loves being a mother. Lina is an under-educated entry level worker in a local hospital.

Their social status becomes unimportant as each woman is instinctively wise, caring and unselfish. After several meetings they become as devoted to each other as they are to their babies. The opening scenes during which the women learn about each other are light-hearted, enjoyable fun.

Jesse is smart, open, humble and empathetic. A wonderful Elizabeth Pietrangelo, plays Jesse emphasizing her warm personality and easy manner. This immediately puts Lina at ease, despite them seeming like polar opposites.

Thanks to an ingratiating performance by Siobhan Shea, Lina is as equally magnetic as is Jesse. Lina’s quick wit, forthright honesty and piercing but funny observations show a woman who has strength and character. She’s the person you fight to sit next to at any family function like a wedding or a shower. Her bubbly personality assures her companions a good time.

One day, a stranger named Mitchell shows up and asks the women if his wife can join their coffee meetings. She, too, is a new mother, lacking friends and needing female support. My guess is because the awkward Mitchell, is played in such a winning, caring way by Daniel M. Perez, they agree to invite his wife to coffee.

It’s a poor choice. When Adrienne shows up it’s clear why she has no friends. Played by a cool and confident Talyah Chaires, her character is brusque to the point of being nasty.  She is uninterested in others and makes clear that she believes her extreme wealth grants her the right to be rude and arrogant.

The choice (by either the director of actor) to play Adrienne with such an intense insensitivity to others is a blemish on an otherwise perfect production.

Playwright Molly Smith Metzler has taken great pains to show almost every conceivable situation that faces new parents. Jesse is a woman who wants to be a stay-at-home mom. Lina has no choice but to leave her child with an in-law in whom she has no confidence and return to work.

Adrienne represents women who prefer a career over child rearing. She is given a redemptive monologue, which Chaires delivers well. However, by this time the character so dislikable it is difficult to give to her any deserved sympathy.

But there is no lack of sympathy in the production. Playwright Metzler sends the audience home pondering the choices that the women choose to make or are forced to make. Because the choices reflect the real world they are not always what we would wish for them.

Directed with skill and sensitivity by Patrick White, “Cry It Out” is a play that is enjoyable, thoughtful. It is not profound material, but it is tale that stays with you. White’s direction keeps the changing moods of the play focused so that the lack of intermission is not a problem. He incorporates masks often used by the performers unobtrusively and for character development. I do wish someone had figured out how to signal the passage of time, but otherwise the blocking, including scene changes is right on.

“Cry It Out” continues outside next to the Little Theater in Saratoga State Park, at 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. A live stream will also be available Sunday.

The on-site audience is limited to 40 people a performance. The audience is given a secure personal space safely distanced from others. Facemasks must be worn outside that space. Temperatures are taken upon entering. Hand sanitizer is also available, and its use required before entering. You must bring your own chairs or blankets. Tickets can only be purchased in advance.

It sounds a bother, but the feeling of safety during the show is worth it. For in-person tickets and streaming information go to homemadetheater.org or call. 518-587-4427.

Bob Goepfert is theater reviewer for the Troy Record.

The views expressed by commentators are solely those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the views of this station or its management.

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