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Cost of Living

Members say: Great acting, Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Intelligent, Intense
80
Critics
78
34 reviews
Members
81
183 reviews
 

Manhattan Theatre Club presents a play about the forces that bring people together, the realities of facing the world with physical disabilities, and how deeply we all need each other. Directed by Obie winner Jo Bonney,

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Truck driver Eddie is struggling to rebuild a relationship with his estranged wife Ani, and Jess is trying to navigate the day-to-day with John, her new boss, in a job that she desperately needs. People are hard.

 

Cast & Creatives (11)



Reviews (217)

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
78
Avg Score

80
Variety

“A bittersweet play…Sullivan is a riveting performer with a load of attitude…Jo Bonney’s carefully calibrated direction allows for smooth transitions in the shifting relationships between clients and caregivers…Sullivan gleefully guides Ani from savage insult to insult…By toppling old prejudices, Majok forces us to revisit our easy assumptions about people who really don’t want to be called ‘differently abled’ and caregivers who could use a little love themselves.” Full Review

65
Time Out New York

"There is a scene in Martyna Majok’s 'Cost of Living' that I will never forget...It’s a moment of sad, sexy, vulnerable beauty. Nothing else in 'Cost of Living' quite equals this scene...Although Majok raises salient issues of physical and economic disadvantage, the play is uneven, and the brief final linking of its two halves feels forced. It is inspiring and encouraging, however, to watch its two disabled actors push the boundaries of their bodies’ visibility onstage." Full Review

75
Theatermania

"A deeply human depiction of life with disability...The weakest aspect of 'Cost of Living' is that it never coalesces particularly well, the distinctly individual story lines feel like separate entities with a forcefully joined conclusion...But there's still a whole lot to savor, namely the way it doesn't condescend to any of the characters...Majok mines their senses of humor, diverse personality traits, and opportunities to be both likable and hateful...Sullivan is particularly excellent." Full Review

75
The Hollywood Reporter

"Featuring superb performances from its four-person ensemble, the drama provides a piercing look at the obstacles faced by disabled people and the human condition in general...The play is not without flaws...It's confusing in its structure and chronology...But the characters, dialogue and situations resonate with emotional truth...Under the pitch-perfect direction of Jo Bonney, Williams and Abraham deliver deeply affecting performances." Full Review

80
The New York Times

"Slams the door on uplifting stereotypes...Majok has engineered her plot to lead naturally to moments of intense and complicated pungency...As long as the play doesn’t try to nail down its doublings, it remains immensely haunting. Bonney’s staging helps keep the tension aloft...When Majok aims for conventional cause and effect, that complexity suddenly flattens. 'Cost of Living' almost doesn’t recover. That it does is largely thanks to the cast, which is as powerful as any now on a NY stage." Full Review

75
New York Theater

"An eye-opening play featuring a quartet of extraordinary performances...But what’s most wonderful about the production, superbly directed by Jo Bonney, are a series of unforgettable scenes between the couples that thrust us into an intimacy that is rare in the theater...A final scene attempts to merge the two parallel stories...The scene doesn’t quite work...Other scenes in the play are told out of chronological order and add at least momentary confusion." Full Review

70
Theatre's Leiter Side

“Eventually, though, its well-meaning intentions run into obstacles that seriously handicap the goodwill it's so carefully generated…The ending is disappointingly awkward. Dramatic surprises are always welcome but they shouldn't seem forced or arbitrary…Majok's vivid dialogue, thoroughly seeded with profanities, flows naturally from the first-rate ensemble…Most memorable is the redheaded Sullivan, with her nasal, high-pitched, Jersey accent shooting a profane stream of verbal bullets.” Full Review

75
The Clyde Fitch Report

"Playwright Majok patently understands the psychological complications inherent in these relationships, as does director Jo Bonney...Majok doesn’t quite complete the writing task she sets for herself. While the Eddie-Ani and John-Jess scenes are clearly related, they register as disconnected...She indicates that she has more to say about her characters than 'Cost of Living' ultimately delivers...Still, it’s a pleasure to see the 'Cost of Living' cast in their assignments." Full Review

80
Times Square Chronicles

"Sullivan and Mozgala both are riveting, especially Sullivan who is so sharp witted with acidic comic timing and a face that shows everything...The play is haunting, if a little disjointed. Taking a mere 100 minutes, you feel as if you have missed something...Bonney’s staging is fierce and blatant just like the writing. She brings out the best in this terrific well-rounded cast." Full Review

80
CurtainUp

"'Cost of Living' is a gut-wrenching contemporary drama...Majok hasn't written stock characters for us to pity...Ms. Bonney has helped all these talented actors to bring their characters into believable life...The nonlinear storytelling is easy enough to follow and manages to build up to some unanticipated surprises. And Majok has not compromised her play with a Hollywood ending. Too bad that she did feel compelled to wind things up with an epilogue." Full Review

87
TheaterScene.net

“Although Martyna Majok's plays have been performed around the country, ‘Cost of Living’ appears to be her mainstream New York debut. Not only does she make difficult material theatrical, her ear for dialogue is impeccable. With intense and arresting performances by Jolly Abraham, Gregg Mozgala, Katy Sullivan and Victor Williams, ‘Cost of Living’ is a window on a world that will be new to most theatergoers. It has a great deal to teach all of us.” Full Review

60
The Wrap

"Majok carefully constructs how caretaker and patient come to depend on each other...What most intrigues is what Majok keeps off stage, and not to the betterment of her play...Director Jo Bonney delivers four fine performances, with Williams being especially empathetic in his opening monologue. What her direction doesn’t do is make up for the play’s sameness of tone. Each scene and its revelations unfold at a deliberate, unvaried pace." Full Review

80
Bob's Theater Blog

"Each character is vividly sketched to the point that I wished I knew more about them...The entire production is first-rate: the acting, the revolving set, the character-appropriate costumes and the smooth direction by Jo Bonney. I read that the author expanded this work from a two-character play and the opening monologue. The combination was not totally successful; some of the stitches show. Nevertheless, seeing it is a worthwhile, if painful, experience." Full Review

90
Woman Around Town

"Playwright Martyna Majok writes with pith and originality, capturing the attitudes, emotions, and syntax of a range of characters in unexpected situations. Conversations are strikingly real and insightful...This piece deserves far wider exposure. Acting is first class. Each player submerges him/herself with a naturalness we never question...Director Jo Bonney keeps the piece fluid." Full Review

70
Wolf Entertainment Guide

"Until Martyna Majok’s 'Cost of Living' takes a forced, not very credible late-play turn, the drama is riveting and deeply moving as a result of the writing, the poignancy attached to the characters and the true-to-life acting...Suddenly the author takes us down a further road that undercuts everything that has gone before, and although still deeply moved by what has passed, one might wish that the play had undergone a severe back-end edit." Full Review

100
Front Row Center

“‘Cost of Living’ is perfection. It sent me over the moon. It reawakens my belief in the poetry of theater and highlights its purpose as the critical eye on our human existence. Seamless. Impossible to pick apart. The production is a jeweled symbiosis of playwright Martyna Majok’s unique script, Jo Bonney’s spot-on direction, Wilson Chin’s tone setting design, and four actors so real that you forget you are watching a fictional stage play.” Full Review

60
Financial Times (UK)

"A sharply drawn portrait of the everyday frustrations and miseries of physical disability...Under Bonney’s direction, the pacing often drags while Williams’s delivery tends to be monotonous and halting. His character is also burdened with a rambling and superfluous opening monologue...At its most powerful, Majok’s play provides harsh glimpses of how unbearably hard life can be. But 'Cost of Living' eventually goes all soft." Full Review

75
Theatre is Easy

“Everyone should see ‘Cost of Living.’ It’s moving and heart-wrenching and will even make you gasp in parts. But is it a great play? I find myself as conflicted as its characters…Majok gorgeously draws four fascinating characters, all of whom capture our empathy, and the nuanced and sophisticated performances make this an evening well worthwhile...The play feels as though its 'wheelchair-themed,' and lumping these two characters together just feels crass." Full Review

80
Theater Pizzazz

"As the stories blend and meld, Martyna Majok’s point is succinctly evident. Needs may be extremely different, but we are all bonded by a commonality–the need for and to love. The play can be inconsistent and confusing at times, but the humanity is never lost...Jo Bonney directs this powerful cast with great sensitivity on Wilson Chin’s turntable stage." Full Review

85
Act Three - The Reviews

"Through her at times raw dialogue, Ms. Majok shows us that everyone's life matters...The connections and emotion in the dialogue are fantastic...The actors themselves are both physically disabled (they are not acting) so the connections they are able to make are unattainable by just a healthy person sitting in a wheel chair. Jo Bonney likely had a very easy time directing these fine actors but I am sure she put her artistic stamp on this already fine production too." Full Review

80
DC Metro Theater Arts

"A play only in the sense that it uses actors to act out a 90-minute study of two cases, played side by side on a revolving stage...The four actors under Jo Bonney’s detailed direction are superb...I found myself missing more of a story line in the writing of the play: but the originality of its subject, the accuracy of the dialog, and the excellence of the performances, all contributed to a well-spent evening at the theatre." Full Review

85
City Cabaret

“A study of four people, emotional but pierced with bitterness and, surprisingly, laughter…The four actors form a gripping ensemble portraying the interwoven layers of the human condition…The two story lines are performed effectively yet have no connection until an ending that is just a bit too tidy…These four actors bring authenticity to the challenges explored by Majok, the afflictions that are obvious, those that are hidden, and the connections that make them universal.” Full Review

75
ZEALnyc

"Skillfully directed by Jo Bonney...The rest of the play, despite some gripping moments, never quite matches the poetry and pow of its first few minutes...The play does not shy away from the difficulties of taking care of another human being...The play also does not shy away from revealing the 'differently abled' as difficult, prickly, and as hard to crack as the rest of us...It almost loses us—almost—but everything and everyone else is so absorbing and real that we’re willing to forgive." Full Review

60
Village Voice

"The acting of all four, under Jo Bonney’s direction, is on a par of excellence. The show’s main difficulty lies not with the actors’ abilities, but with Majok’s play. Full of effective moments and often deeply felt, it lacks the connective tissue to make the interactions of its intriguing characters add up to a dramatic event...A series of touching moments that lead nowhere can’t quite be called a play. Almost—but not quite. It’s a pity, because Majok has a flair for character." Full Review

85
This Week in New York Blog

"Despite the setup, 'Cost of Living' is not some kind of activist production trying to make a politically correct statement about people with disabilities; instead, it’s an intimate story about two men and two women facing the daily challenges that life brings them...'Cost of Living' is carefully constructed by Majok and her 'dream' director, Jo Bonney. They avoid sentimentality or sympathy—although the drama is deeply involving—while treating all four people as equals." Full Review

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
81
Avg Score

74
Enchanting, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Romantic, Great writing

See it if You appreciate stories about people with disabilities, actually portrayed by actors with disabilities. You enjoy dialogue-driven work.

Don't see it if You do not enjoy slowly-unfolding action.

82
Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Moving, Smart, Great cast

See it if you want to encounter rich/vivid performances (from Jolly Abraham, Gregg Mozgala, Katy Sullivan & Victor Williams) unloosed by smart writing

Don't see it if you need tidy endings; if you're looking for "inspiration porn"

76
Funny, Absorbing, Great acting, Intense, Cliched

See it if You want to be sucked into fully-realized characters' emotional tumults.

Don't see it if Sad plays about relationships and struggle aren't your thing. Conventional story arcs annoy you.

Also Great group of actors who are convincingly vulnerable, hurt, angry, ho... Read more Read less

75
Absorbing, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Resonant, Uneven

See it if you enjoy plays about the human experience, focusing on the physically disabled and their caregivers. Moving, insightful, and often funny.

Don't see it if resonant/relevant content and focus on an underrepresented group is not enough for you to get past some uneven writing and acting.

78
Ambitious, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Great staging

See it if you want to see the lives, needs, and desires of those with/without physical handicaps weaved together in a touching, sad, even funny way.

Don't see it if you are not comfortable with issues about disabilities, care-taking, unemployment, or very brief shower scene with some nudity.

Also I was engaged throughout as it touched upon emotions that affect all o... Read more Read less

75
Ambitious, Intelligent, Intense, Thought-provoking

See it if stories about people with physical disabilities and their caregivers who have their own economic & emotional issues; 2 parallel stories

Don't see it if male nudity even if brief; 2 parallel stories that are uneven; an intense & disturbing moment that will make you gasp

Also one of the story lines seemed much less believable, more contrived as ... Read more Read less

91
Exquisite, Resonant, Romantic, Great writing, Entertaining

See it if observant, wry, & tender drama of power, class, bodies. Packs a punch with plainspoken lyricism, excellent performances.

Don't see it if naturalism isn't your jam.

28
Intense, Disappointing, Excruciating

See it if You want to support shows where characters with disabilities are played by actors with disabilities.

Don't see it if You want an interesting story. You want a cast with balanced talent.

78
Ambitious, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Well performed and staged, Alternatively intense or light

See it if you think you'd like a drama on a topic that many people face today: caregiving.

Don't see it if you like your theatre light and fluffy. This raises serious questions about caring for friends, family, community.

67
Thought-provoking, Relevant, Overrated, Slow, Great staging

See it if You like plays that explore human needs and desires from a unique perspective.

Don't see it if You cannot forgive some writing deficiencies in the script.

90
Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting, Intense, Riveting

See it if you are interested in seeing a different type of story on the stage and different types of actors offering their all to tell a story.

Don't see it if people with disabilities, male nudity (even if brief), or issues a race and class make you uncomfortable.

83
Great acting, Great staging

See it if for well developed characters, good writing.

Don't see it if You want a traditional narrative. Then again, you might like it anyway.

79
Ambitious, Great acting, Intense, Profound, Riveting

See it if You have the honor of seeing actors with disabilities perform beautifully.

Don't see it if You can't accept some of the hardships of life.

89
Funny, Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Great staging

See it if you like excellent writing, acting, staging and acting all in same performance. Difficult (disability) treated well - not a downer

Don't see it if If watching excellent acting by disabled actors is difficult do not go. But you will miss excellent production.'

86
Great acting, Intelligent, Masterful, Profound, Resonant

See it if you enjoy challening drama about a difficult subject. The committment of the actors is astounding. There were scenes that left me breathless

Don't see it if you like comedies or do not want to see a play about characters with phycial disabailites.

84
Funny, Ambitious, Great acting, Intelligent, Intense

See it if You enjoy very original plays with small casts that are funny, realistic, and emotional

Don't see it if You're not interested in thought provoking plays and prefer cliches

85
Absorbing, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Great writing, Great staging

See it if You want an original story and a very well written, thought provoking play. So well done and brilliant acting.

Don't see it if You need to be engaged right away. It is a little slow in the beginning but picks up steam.

95
Edgy, Thought-provoking, Riveting

See it if You like to be challenged intellectually, and emotionally, enjoy great acting, and writing, and appreciate bravery.

Don't see it if You don't want to see a play about people with disabilities and their issues. It's not bleak, there's plenty of humor, but it is emotional.

86
Great acting, Thought-provoking, Resonant

See it if You want to explore the nature of disability. You want to see differently abled actors playing realistic roles.

Don't see it if You have problems with brief nudity. You don't enjoy topical romance.

80
Edgy, Great acting, Intense, Thought-provoking, Interesting staging

See it if excellent acting and creative staging make an appealing combination..

Don't see it if a slightly contrived and confusing plot spoils a good night out. There are two stories played with weak but surprising points of connection

83
Absorbing, Great acting, Intense, Thought-provoking

See it if Very acted, different, absorbing show.

Don't see it if You are disturbed about disabilities and expect traditional stereotypes

80
Ambitious, Thought-provoking, Quirky, Entertaining

See it if you want to see very poignant, realistic scenes about people with disabilities and their caregivers. Class issues are also touched on.

Don't see it if you are expecting a plot with a dramatic arc, climax and resolution.

Also Despite its lack of plot, the show is worthwhile because of its true-t... Read more Read less

73
Thought-provoking, Disappointing, Great staging

See it if 9 shows with revolving stages...The question of loneliness always gets to me. A comp. of a 70% and a 75%. Good acting. Sets always great at

Don't see it if The two tales do not a play make. .

85
Absorbing, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Relevant

See it if you like interesting story telling. Absorbing and thought provoking. Nicely staged. Great cast.

Don't see it if you don't like emotional situations.

84
Great acting, Intelligent, Intense, Relevant, Great staging

See it if you are interested in how people with emotional and/or physical disabilities navigate their world. Some very powerful and memorable scenes

Don't see it if you're looking for a comedy. The play is uneven and a little slow in parts, but the excellent acting smooths out the ripples. Worth seeing