Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.

Cry It Out
Arena Stage
Review by Susan Berlin | Season Schedule

Also see Susan's reviews of Anything Goes and Elf the Musical

Emjoy Gavino and Dina Thomas
Photo by Daniel Corey
Cry It Out, the serious comedy about motherhood now at Studio Theatre in Washington, seems unassuming but stays in the memory with its insights about class conflict, unrealistic expectations, costs of living, and the bonds that form among new mothers.

Molly Smith Metzler wrote the play drawing on her own experiences, moving with her husband from New York City to Long Island shortly before giving birth to their first child. Jessie (Emjoy Savino), a corporate lawyer on maternity leave, feels trapped in the Long Island town of Port Washington; her husband commutes to work in Manhattan and she's spending her days alone with a daughter born by emergency C-section. The only place Jessie can go to get away is the local supermarket, where she meets her neighbor Lina (Dina Thomas), another new mother.

The two women bond immediately despite their differences: Lina is a lifelong Long Islander, on maternity leave from her job in a hospital, living with her boyfriend and his mother. She's also staying sober after years of alcohol and drug abuse, describing the process as "You accept that you want it, then choose to want something else more." They hang out together with their baby monitors in Jessie's yard (an ingenious set by Chelsea Warren that centers on a square patch of lawn with a photo mural of the neighborhood in the background).

The balance gets thrown off by the arrival of Mitchell (Paolo Andino), who lives in a wealthy community on a cliff overlooking Jessie and Lina's neighborhood. (How wealthy? Lina notes that several members of the New York Yankees have homes there.) Mitchell is worried that his wife Adrienne (Tessa Klein), a designer of high-end jewelry, isn't bonding with their baby and asks the two women to invite her to join them. Suddenly, the dynamics change between the friends and they're trying to communicate with a woman who literally looks down on them.

Director Joanie Schultz maintains a naturalistic flow that echoes the women's utterly realistic, often profane, frequently hilarious conversation. Thomas shines in the standout role: Lina is down-to-earth, Italian-American, and says whatever she wants with no apologies. Gavino conveys a sense of releasing long-held tensions, while Andino and Klein maintain enough distance from the other characters that misunderstandings are certain to follow.

Studio Theatre
Cry It Out
November 14th - December 16th, 2018
In the Milton Theatre
By Molly Smith Metzler
Directed by Joanie Schultz
Jessie: Emjoy Gavino
Lina: Dina Thomas
Mitchell: Paolo Andino
Adrienne: Tessa Klein
Studio Theatre, 1501 14th St. NW
Washington, DC
Ticket Information: 202-332-3300 or