Parenting and pregnancy are at the heart and core of two plays being performed in repertory at Ridgefield’s intimate Thrown Stone Theatre Company housed in the Ridgefield Conservatory of Dance at 440 Main Street in Ridgefield until Saturday, August 3. They will engage you, possibly at times enrage you, drive you to both laughter and tears and definitely provoke conversation. That conversation, that “leaning in to listen,” is one of the goals of the theatre’s Co-directors Jason Peck and Jonathan Winn.
Enjoying its East Coast premiere is “Birds of North America” by Anna Moench and directed by Jason Peck concerning a father John, J. R. Sullivan, and his daughter Caitlin, Melisa Breiner Sanders, who seen to fly together but never touch wings. They are birders. They often take stances in his Maryland backyard and search for unusual and rare species to record. These sightings bring them great joy.
But if you remove the winged creatures from the equation, father and daughter have little to say and less to agree on together. They both suffer from disappointments in life, but there is little empathy or shared compassion. The pair is like radio stations tuned to different channels and the result is static. The play follows a decade in their strained relationship and attempts at communication, a beautiful bittersweet “flight” of thought.
The Connecticut premiere of “Cry It Out” by Molly Smith Metzler, directed by Gina Pulice, takes us literally out of the warm comforting womb and into the realities of birth. Two new moms, with no one but their babies to coo to, meet over melons at Stop and Shop. Their instant recognition of need for support brings them to their shared backyard for more than friendship, a sisterhood. Maria McConville’s sassy Lina with her frazzled home life and economical needs is a wonderful contrast to Clare Parme’s privileged lawyer/mom Jessie, yet the two snap together faster than a size infant onesie.
Jessie had a traumatic time at delivery that makes going back to the corporate world virtually impossible.
How can she leave her miracle child? Lina, for all her smart wit, is terrified to leave her Max with her almost mother-in-law who drinks and lies about it. But she has no choice financially.
Enter into the backyard koffee klatch Jonathan Winn’s Mitchell who literally lives above them on a cliff of wealthy homes. His wife, Wynter Kullman’s Adrienne, is a successful jewelry designer who seems to be having great difficulty bonding emotionally to motherhood.
Molly Smith Metzler writes from personal experience as a new mom so you will identify with many of the issues. The title refers to the practice of letting babies “cry it out” when put to sleep. For tickets ($29-59), call Thrown Stone at 203-442-1714 or go online to thrownstone.org. “Cry It Out” will be performed in repertory with “Birds of North America.” Check for times: Thursday at 8 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Both productions are well acted and well worth your time and consideration. Plan to see one or both. You will surely “lean in” to catch all the inferences and innuendoes that abound and will definitely provoke a provocative conversation.