Reviews: “Cry It Out” and “Ripcord”

The circle of life takes center stage in the North Bay with two plays featuring females dealing with challenges ranging from child rearing to senior living. Petaluma’s Cinnabar Theater invites you to Cry It Out while the Ross Valley Players would love for you to come and pull a Ripcord. Proof of COVID vaccination and masking are required to attend both productions.

‘Cry it out’ is a method of sleep training for infants in which a parent puts an infant down to sleep and then lets the child cry it out until it does. It can also describe what many mothers do while navigating the current social norms on motherhood.   

Long Island neighbors Jessie (Ilana Niernberger) and Lina (Amanda Vitiello) have little in common other than being new mothers but that’s enough to begin to build a strong friendship. Jessie’s an attorney who’s considering not returning to work, while Lina is an entry-level clerical worker who has to return to work while living with her boyfriend and his problematic mother. Their backyard coffee klatches are the envy of up-the-hill neighbor Mitchell (Andrew Patton). He’d like to have his wife Adrienne (Kellie Donnelly) join the club and perhaps build a relationship with her child along the lines of the ones that Jessie and Lina have with theirs.  

All is not what it seems with these characters as the pedestal on which our society claims to place motherhood cracks under the pressure of economic reality.

Molly Noble directs a fine ensemble in this Molly Smith Metzler-penned bittersweet comedy that, while garnering plenty of laughs, leans more to the bitter (truth) than the sweet. 

David Lindsay-Abaire’s Ripcord is a gender-switched, modernized and somewhat dark update of Neil Simon’s The Odd Couple with a New York apartment replaced by a Senior Living Center and Felix and Oscar replaced with Abby and Marilyn.

Abby (Tori Truss) has managed to keep her semi-private room private, but she’s met her match in Marilyn (Pamela Hollings). A bet between the two leads to a serio-comic battle for occupancy rights.

The show is an odd mix of character, physical, and cartoonish comedy with more serious drama. Whether it’s the times we live in or the distractingly boorish behavior of an unmasked patron, I found the show’s often cruelty-based humor somewhat lacking.

The cast tries hard, and Truss really succeeds in making her character unlikeable, but there were pacing issues in the Chloe Bronzan-directed comedy, particularly with some of the more outrageous comedic bits. Kudos, though, for the solution to the difficult-to-stage parachuting scene.

Some of the comedy hit, but not enough.

‘Cry It Out’ runs through Sep. 26 at Cinnabar Theater, 3333 Petaluma Blvd. N., Petaluma. Fri–Sat, 7:30pm; Sun, 2pm. Streaming option available. $25–$35. 707.763.8920. cinnabartheater.org

‘Ripcord’ runs through Oct. 10 at the Barn Theatre in the Marin Art and Garden Center, 30 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., Ross. Thurs., 7:30 pm; Fri. & Sat., 8 pm, Sun., 2 pm. $15–$30. 415.456.9555. rossvalleyplayers.com

Photos by Victoria Von Thal and Robin Jackson

These reviews originally appeared in edited versions in the North Bay Bohemian and Pacific Sun.

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