New York | 1h 40m | Already closed

Cost of Living

From 34 critic and 187 member reviews
Members say: Great acting, Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Intelligent, Intense

About the show

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, More…

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.

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

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

Stage Buddy

"Despite the heaviness in the lives and situations of each character, Majok infuses her brilliant new play with strong wit, as everyone relies on humor to get them through the day...A quiet but heart-wrenching examination of the different types of privilege that make up each individual life...Majok’s play is in good hands with Jo Bonney as director, and a marvelous cast that brought to life the play’s tenderness and tension." Full Review


“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

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

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

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

Magical MissTari Tour

"All four characters are beautifully drawn-their strengths and their weaknesses are very well-written...I thought both relationships were completely realistic and the struggles were compelling to watch...The way the play depicted all of the characters as human, with egos and faults and prejudices...was terrific. And the play was terrifically funny at times as well...The acting was fantastic...I love a play that upends stereotypes and defies expectations. So I highly recommend 'Cost of Living.'" Full Review

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

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


“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


"'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

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

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

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

Exeunt Magazine

"Majok’s quietly burning play teases out the meanings and contexts of privilege and does so by means of stories that give center stage to disabilities...Bonney’s direction, whether emphasizing John’s little gestures of impatience or Ani’s thick shell, always underscores that these four are not on equal footing...Taken at the level of appearances, the cost of living might not seem the same for everyone but 'Cost of Living' posits that what matters is only how the price gets paid." Full Review

Theater Life

"A play about disabilities, cast with people who have disabilities, 'Living' stands out among a few like-minded productions...Jarring as it is to watch the characters in Majok’s new work struggle with the dailiness of their lives, her play makes life’s painful rigors transparent. Fortunately, she also imbues the experience with a sharply honed comic sensibility...Best not to spoil the outcome, but it is a tender, humanizing one, beautifully directed by Bonney." Full Review

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

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

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


"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

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


"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

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

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

Absorbing, Great acting, Great staging, Great singing, Great writing

See it if You are willing to be emotionally moved and entertained at the same time.

Don't see it if You are involved in caregiving and want a respite from your "real" life.

Profound, Relevant, Resonant, Riveting, Thought-provoking

See it if You like to see new dramatic stories about people with disabilities and their caregivers being told and presented on the NY stage.

Don't see it if You want to see something uplifting.

Also Phenomenal cast of four incredibly talented actors which includes the ... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Entertaining, Great acting, Great writing

See it if You are looking to be totally absorbed in a drama filled, realistic show. It was so real and the four actors/actresses were amazing.

Don't see it if You can't deal with a dose of reality

Absorbing, Delightful, Resonant, Relevant, Funny

See it if You're not offended by disabilities, sadness, interracial couples, cussing, brief nudity. Staging was nice. I cried, but, I'm biased. I wish

Don't see it if I didn't miss the 1st 15-min or else, i'd give it a 100... No reason not to see this.....

Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Profound, Must see

See it if You like plays that make you think about life and relationships. You're interested in seeing actors with disabilities.

Don't see it if You want big name actors or a plot-driven show. You have an issue with onstage nudity.

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.

Absorbing, Great writing, Intelligent, Relevant

See it if You like great, relevant drama with a sense of humor.

Don't see it if you like fluffy stuff.

Intense, Thought-provoking, Resonant, Funny, Moving

See it if In relationships w/ disabled people and their caretakers, the stronger person isn't always who you might think. Deep themes, great acting.

Don't see it if You do not want to see severe disabilities, sexual issues/nudity, exploration of vulnerability and who needs who.

Absorbing, Great acting, Exquisite, Great staging, Intelligent

See it if You like sensitive dramas about struggling people with wounds and flaws.

Don't see it if You like mindless entertainment.

Absorbing, Great acting, Must see, Profound

See it if You like plays with class consciousness that make you think

Don't see it if You need traditional plots

Absorbing, Ambitious, Hard hitting, Risk taking, Acting a++

See it if You like solid, hard hitting, dialogue, unusual looks at love and connections.

Don't see it if You are squeamish, can see or discuss physical pain, distortion, or failings

Exquisite, Resonant, Romantic, Entertaining, Great writing

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.

Ambitious, Absorbing, Great acting, Edgy, Intelligent

See it if You want to be surprised and engaged.

Don't see it if You are uneasy about disabilities

Ambitious, Clever, Delightful, Great acting, Intense

See it if great acting, very talented actors...Bravo!

Don't see it if If you only like musicals

Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting, Riveting, Intense

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.

Clever, Great acting, Intelligent, Thought-provoking

See it if You enjoy excellent acting and dramas. On portion of the play takes you back in time to explain key background factors.

Don't see it if strong themes upset you

Great acting, Great writing, Relevant, Intense, Must see

See it if want a well acted, well written ,cleverly staged show with lots of heart----one of the best plays I have seen --humor and tragedy interwoven

Don't see it if want to see something light and fluffy==or a big broadway musical---or just don't want to feel 'cause this fine cast and script grabs you

Absorbing, Great acting, Great staging, Great writing, Intelligent

See it if you are interested in the conversation about disabled/able-bodied people. This is a gorgeous, heart wrenching piece.

Don't see it if you do not like new plays or swearing.

Absorbing, Entertaining, Great staging, Intelligent, Refreshing

See it if You want something new and refreshing with real character.

Don't see it if You prefer no nudity in your show.

Absorbing, Great acting, Edgy, Thought-provoking

See it if You enjoy edgy theater with unexpected twists about 'the human condition'

Don't see it if You only like light fun theater

Also If you are honest you can see a little bit of yourself in each of the ... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Edgy, Exquisite

See it if You want to see a thought provoking show... amazing acting

Don't see it if You only want to see fluffy pieces

Thought-provoking, Relevant, Great acting, Funny, Absorbing

See it if you're interested in a fresh depiction of disability on stage that's not at all cliche and supporting disabled and non-disabled actors

Don't see it if you don't enjoy REALISM

Absorbing, Profound, Riveting

See it if you like awesome theater with superb acting directing & staging about people desire to connect in the most unusual circumstances.Powerful!

Don't see it if You do not like heartfelt theater.

Thought-provoking, Resonant, Absorbing

See it if You like to see multiple spectrum of diversity represented on the stage and appreciate strong acting.

Don't see it if You aren't willing to have hard conversations about race, sex, ability, and class. If you are squeamish about nudity.

Masterful, Must see, Ambitious, Great acting, Relevant

See it if you want to see portrayals of disability on stage without cliches and stereotypes along with masterful scenic design.

Don't see it if you do not like contemporary american stories.

Cast & Creatives (11)