The 2017 comedy from the acclaimed creator of Netflix’s Maid has its Orange County premiere at Chance Theater.
by Dana Hammer
Before I had children, I swore up and down that when I had kids, I would be an elegant, sophisticated mom. I would walk around in pencil skirts and heels, with a perfectly dressed baby in an expensive stroller. I would never, EVER be one of those frumpy moms who slumped around in athleisure every single day, who resembled pack mules with all their baggage and baby gear strapped to their tired bodies.
Yeah. I was one of those delightful girls.
Fast forward to my baby’s first doctor’s appointment. I was not wearing a pencil skirt and heels. I couldn’t figure out how to use my very expensive stroller, so my baby was in her car seat, which I detached from the car and carried with me. My shirt was damp with leaking breast milk. I was in yoga pants. Worst of all, I KNEW what I looked like, and I couldn’t understand how I’d gotten to that point — barely keeping it together, exhausted, and yes, frumpy.
I looked around at all the other new moms, with their babies, and noticed similar looks of shell-shocked fatigue, and I realized that we were all in more or less the same boat. We had all been girls once — walking around unencumbered by diaper bags, dry-chested and fancy-free. And now we…weren’t. We were something else now. We were mothers.
Cry It Out — which is playing at Chance Theater from April 1st to May 1st, 2022 — is a play that examines new motherhood in all its messy, undignified glory. It also explores the importance of female friendship and the need that new mothers have for help. It follows two new moms as they bond over daily coffee meetings in their adjoining backyards. A third mother — an obscenely wealthy woman from up on the hill — tries to join their meetings because she is having a hard time adjusting to motherhood herself. The two non-wealthy mothers are confused — after all, how could such a rich person possibly relate to their struggles?
But the truth is, all mothers can relate to these struggles, including the women involved in the Chance’s production of this play. Cry it Out is written by a woman, Molly Smith Metzler, and directed by a woman, Elina de Santos. This combination is still a rarity in theatre, but for a play dealing with motherhood, it’s essential. Both the writer and director are mothers themselves, and as such are especially qualified to handle the subject matter in a way that is sensitive, funny, and true.
Aubrey Saverino (who plays Jessie, the main character) says: “I relate to my character so very much. When I read the character description I went -- that's me! She's a mother who loves her child fiercely, and she's also struggling to understand who she is in the world now that she's had a baby --- what is her relationship to her job, to her partner, to her friends. All things that I think many new parents grapple with after they have a kid.”
And working on this play while mothering is no easy task. Says Saverino, “I am a mom in real life — and a working mom at that. I am currently teaching theater at 3 different colleges, directing a play at one of them, and now adding rehearsals for this play means my plate (and my schedule) is VERY full. For instance, today I woke up, took my kiddo to school, went to teach at Fullerton College, did some dialect coaching for a show, and then will have rehearsal for this show until 11 p.m. I won’t get home until midnight, which (as the mother of a 3 year old) is past my bedtime. I am fortunate that my kid loves his school and that my husband is able to take on more parenting duties this month so I can do this, but I also miss my kid. It’s a hard thing as a parent. The balance between wanting to pursue what you love versus being with your kid (and family), whom you love.”
It’s a lot. And I think we can all agree to salute Ms. Saverino, and all the moms who put in these kinds of hours.
Basically, you need to see this play if you’re a mother, or a person who has a mother. Not only will it provide some catharsis for parents everywhere, it will help open up a dialogue about what parenting is like in our society, and what we want it to be like. When I asked the director, Elina de Santos what she wanted people to discuss coming away from this play, she answered: “Choices, childcare, communication, agreements, how hard the choices [are] for mothers, how little real support women get for the monumental feats they perform over and over again, and how much mothers just want help! Love may not be enough.”
Having raised a newborn myself, I can say, with utter certainty, that love is NOT enough. If I’d only had love to give, my baby would have died. To take care of a baby, you need food, rest, shelter, baby wipes, burp cloths, diapers, breasts and/or bottles, baby wash, diaper cream, and YES, HELP! New parents need help!
And you know what else they need? A babysitter, and a night out at the Chance Theater.
Dana Hammer is a writer and local theater enthusiast living and working in Orange County.
‘Cry It Out’
Cripe Stage, Chance Theater @ Bette Aitken theater arts center, 5522 E. La Palma Ave., Anaheim.
Previews: Apr.1 - 8. Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.
Regular run: Apr. 9-May 1. Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 3 and 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.