Molly Smith Metzler’s ‘Cry It Out’ in Hotchner Theatre April 18-21

From left: Samantha Campisi as Lina, Anna Hansen as Jessie, Sarah Wilkinson as Adrienne and Jacob Elliott as Mitchell. (Photo: Danny Reise/Washington University)

Jessie is a corporate lawyer. Lina works an entry-level job at the hospital. Both are new mothers. When they get together for coffee, the exact spot is dictated by the range of baby monitors.

In “Cry It Out,” playwright Molly Smith Metzler explores the power of presence, the absurdities of motherhood, and the subtle and not-so-subtle ways life choices are shaped by wealth and class.

“It’s an unlikely friendship,” said Andrea Urice, teaching professor of drama in the Performing Arts Department in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, who will direct “Cry It Out” April 18-21 in the A.E. Hotchner Studio Theatre.

“Lina and Jessie both have babies and are both on parental leave,” Urice explained. They’re also neighbors who shop at the same grocery store and take pride in the same local schools. Yet they come from different socioeconomic worlds. “Lina and her partner are always strapped for money. Jessie has the means to stay home.

“But twice a day, during nap time, they meet at a table in Jessie’s backyard,” Urice added. “It’s chilly, it’s muddy, it’s uncomfortable. Their connection outweighs all of that.”

Samantha Campisi and Anna Hansen perform as Lina and Jessie. (Photo: Danny Reise/Washington University)

‘Are we Vikings?’

Metzler, a screenwriter for “Orange Is the New Black” and “Shameless,” is the creator and showrunner of the hit Emmy-nominated Netflix series “Maid.” She debuted “Cry It Out” in 2017 at The Actors Theater of Louisville’s prestigious Humana Festival. Urice was in attendance.

“You see a lot of new plays at the festival, maybe six or seven in a weekend,” Urice recalled. “But ‘Cry It Out’ stayed with me. Metzler writes snappy dialogue and has a good sense of rhythm. And not many plays address the challenges of parenting, especially motherhood.”

The story is set in the Long Island village of Manorhaven, where flashy new construction jostles with rundown duplexes. Lina and Jessie brave winter weather and, in language both witty and profane, commiserate over jeggings, antidepressants, social isolation and the barbarity of sleep training.

“You put your baby down in a dark crib and let them scream and scream until they learn no one’s coming for them?” Lina asks. “I mean, are we Vikings?”

Sarah Wilkinson is Adrienne and Jacob Elliott as Mitchell. (Photo: Danny Reise/Washington University)

Yet this intimate camaraderie is tested when Mitchell, an awkward financial wiz whose house overlooks Jessie’s, asks a favor. Could his wife, Adrienne, who also recently gave birth, join the women for coffee?

“Adrienne is prickly,” Urice said. “She’s a famous and wealthy jewelry designer who wants to continue working. She doesn’t understand why that is judged so harshly.

“Even in 2024, we still carry certain gender biases about mothers, work and who can pursue an active professional career,” Urice continued. “But over the course of the play, all of Metzler’s characters end up a bit differently than you think they might.

“I like how ‘Cry It Out’ talks about these thorny issues,” Urice concluded. “It’s sharp and comedic and lots of fun. It’s also pretty moving.”

Cast and crew

The cast of four stars Anna Hansen and Samantha Campisi as Jessie and Lina. Jacob Elliott plays Mitchell. Sarah Wilkinson is Adrienne.

Scenic design is by Annie Mitnick. Costumes are by Lainie Paris. Lighting is by Nick Cochran. Sean M. Savoie is sound designer. Props are by Emily Frei. The stage manager is Marisa Daddazio, with assistance from Heather Elaine Anderson. Robert Mark Morgan is scenic design adviser. Nikki Green and Sean Savoie are costume design and lighting design advisers.


“Cry It Out” will begin at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, April 18, 19 and 20. Matinee performances will begin at 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, April 20 and 21.

The A.E. Hotchner Studio Theatre is located in the Mallinckrodt Student Center, 6465 Forsyth Blvd. Tickets are $20, or $15 for seniors, students and WashU faculty and staff, and free for WashU students. Tickets are available through the Washington University Box Office. For more information, call 314-935-6543 or visit

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