Review Roundup: COST OF LIVING Opens On Broadway

The play makes its Broadway debut following its New York premiere at MTC's New York City Center - Stage I in June 2017.

By: Oct. 03, 2022
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Manhattan Theatre Club's Broadway premiere of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Cost of Living opens tonight, October 3, at MTC's Samuel J. Friedman Theatre (261 West 47th Street). Cost of Living is written by Martyna Majok (Sanctuary City, Ironbound) and directed by Obie Award winner Jo Bonney (72 Miles to Go...; By The Way, Meet Vera Stark). The play makes its Broadway debut following its New York premiere at MTC's New York City Center - Stage I in June 2017.

The cast features acclaimed original stars Gregg Mozgala (Lucille Lortel Award winner for his performance) and Katy Sullivan(Theatre World Award winner for her performance), who reunite for the Broadway production; Tony Award nominee Kara Young(Clyde's, The New Englanders at MTC); and David Zayas ("Dexter," Anna in the Tropics).

Read the reviews!

Maya Phillips, The New York Times: This play left me breathless, and I'm not just using a manner of speech. As I made my way through the crowd of people exiting the theater, I took hard, shallow breaths, knowing that one deep inhale could set off a downpour of tears. This production either broke or mended something in me; I felt - brilliantly, painfully, cathartically - near the point of physical exhaustion.

Naveen Kumar, Variety: What gives life value and makes it worth our daily toil? What does it mean to need another person, and what do we owe each other? It is a testament to the brilliant craft of Martyna Majok's "Cost of Living," now on Broadway after a successful off Broadway run, that it poses these sorts of colossal questions in scenes so bracingly intimate that you might be tempted to look away were they not so utterly magnetic.

Juan A. Ramirez, Vulture: Martyna Majok's 2018 Pulitzer winner, Cost of Living, has finally arrived on Broadway, and don't be fooled by the Hallmark-esque advertisements or the Enya-sounding New Age music that plays between scenes: This is a remarkable (and remarkably unsentimental) look at who we are, what we have, and what we're able to be for ourselves and others. It's the kind of play that feels too real and too quietly observed for a landscape insistent on broad emotional swings and easy politicization.

Chris Jones, The New York Daily News: The actors, working under the direction of Jo Bonney, are honest and solid; Mozgala is a veritable forcefield of signals and manipulations. But the performance from Young is on its own plane. She's a formidable young star in the making, richly detailed, moving, present and profoundly vulnerable. Her reactions alone are enough to sustain a couple of hours of provocative drama, revealing quietly desperate American characters whom we so rarely see.

Alexis Soloski, The Guardian: Generous even in its anger, Cost of Living is an act of service toward its characters, its actors and its audience, too, enlarging the vision of what is possible in a Broadway theater and who is welcome here.

Tim Teeman, The Daily Beast: Yes, this play is radical in its characterization of disability and disabled people, in giving nuance, spirit, life, and agency to characters and actors often denied all of those. It shows why writing and directing material like this should not be radical, it should just be. Cost of Living is a beautiful and thrilling piece of theater about the various tendernesses of simply being human, as well as a bracing challenge to all kinds of cultural forms and genres to follow its example.

Adam Feldman, Time Out New York: I had a different reaction to the Broadway production, which feels deeper and more fully realized to me. In part, that may reflect the added resonance its themes have acquired over the past few years, when we all became more alert to questions of health, responsibility and isolation that Cost of Living touches on. But this version also benefits from new cast members Young and Zayas, who bring marvelous warmth and personality to their performances. The two original cast members remain strong-Sullivan's voice cuts through the theater like a serrated knife-but the balance of the play has shifted for the better. Majok's tender, tough-loving care for her characters shines out with new life.

Joey Sims, Theatrely: Beyond its intriguing mess of motivations, Majok's quiet, deeply moving play also probes at a deeper question: Who is truly being cared for? Majok is the rare brand of playwright who can take such a broad, potentially soppy theme and probe it with wit and subtlety. Aided here by Jo Bonney's elegant direction and an excellent cast, Majok's 2018 Pulitzer Prize winner is mostly sublime on Broadway, save for a few missteps.

Frank Scheck, New York Stage Review: Martyna Majok's Pulitzer Prize winning drama has fortunately been given a chance to achieve greater exposure after its limited 2017 run at Off-Broadway's Manhattan Theatre Club. Currently playing on Broadway in a partially recast version produced by the same organization, Cost of Living has lost none of its emotional power and poignancy. Although dealing largely with the difficulties of two physically disabled characters, this is really a beautifully observed play about the human condition in general.

Melissa Rose Bernardo, New York Stage Review: After that, we'll follow these beautiful, messy characters just about anywhere...even to a slightly unbelievable head-scratcher of a final scene. But Eddie said it best: "The shit that happens is not to be understood." I suspect that is what we will remember of Cost of Living 20 years from now. "The shit that happens to you is Not To Be Understood."

Elysa Gardner, The New York Sun: It is through Eddie and Jess that the two stories in "Cost of Living" ultimately intersect, at a very low point for both. "It's just unfortunate that some people have already lived a lot of life before they meet other people," she tells him. Yet part of the beauty of "Cost of Living" is something else these disparate characters share: a determination to press on - no matter the price.

Jonathan Mandell, New York Theater: Manhattan Theater Club, which produced the play at City Center in 2017, has moved it largely intact to its Broadway house, the Samuel J. Friedman, for a short run. Only the two performers who portray the caretakers have been changed - David Zayas and Kara Young, who each give the latest in their respective long lines of beguiling performances. The production is otherwise the same: First-rate direction by Jo Bonney, effective and efficient design by the original design team, and, above all, extraordinary performances by Gregg Mozgala and Katy Sullivan, as the two people in need of caretakers. If the lack of discernible alterations to the script feels like a missed opportunity, its strengths allow for a series of remarkable scenes that are surely unprecedented for Broadway.

Matt Windman, amNY: Like "Sanctuary City," "Cost of Living" is a compelling contemporary drama that has enigmatic and vulnerable characters, complex relationships, rising intensity, vigorous argumentation, and an underlying sense of humor and compassion in the midst of endless struggle.

Brian Scott Lipton, Cititour: Somewhat oddly, Majok seems to have given the physically disabled characters less emotional dimension - and basic likeability -- than their caretakers. Indeed, Ani and John can be so unpleasant that, after a while, you almost wish for them to disappear and for the play to focus solely on Eddie and Jess. Indeed, while it perhaps shouldn't be the case, their challenges end up the ones we most care about. By the play's end, we also realize the prices Jess and Eddie pay for remaining alive are something that can never be solved by the Federal Reserve.

Joe Dziemianowicz, New York Theatre Guide: Martyna Majok's Cost of Living follows shifting relationships between two disabled adults and their caregivers. The play arrives on Broadway four years after being awarded a Pulitzer Prize, an honor that is both a badge (bragging rights to an exclusive club) and baggage (escalated expectations). That's the cost of winning.

Greg Evans, Deadline: As character study, Cost of Living can be moving, funny and intriguing, but the plot mechanics and string-pulling undercut the drama. When the two stories finally commingle, the hopeful ending - well, hopeful for some - feels as though it's been predetermined from the start, with all the tragedy, cross-messages, hurt feelings and dashed dreams set in motion for no reason other than the late-night meeting of two strangers who've survived the plot.

Howard Miller, Talkin' Boradway: In alternating scenes, the play focuses on the tenuous relationships between John and Jess, between Ani and Eddie, and, in the end, between the two caregivers who carry their own deep wounds and ache of loneliness. The play's overall theme of dependence, interdependence, and codependence is a gripping one, and all four cast members and the director manage to make a virtue of avoiding full disclosure. What you see as an outsider is what you get, and what you get with Katy Sullivan's performance, in particular, will haunt you long after the final bows. There but for fortune, the "shit" that happens to them could happen to any of us.

Robert Hofler, The Wrap: The first time around, I found Jo Bonney's direction a little too measured. Each scene and its revelations unfold at a deliberate, unvaried pace over the course of 100 minutes. She was right, I was wrong. Hers is the right way to direct "Cost of Living," but you maybe need to have seen the play twice to realize that.

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