Sunday, October 16, 2022

Broadway Theater Review: Cost of Living

KatySullivan, David Zayas. Photo: Jeremy Daniel

Gregg Mozgala, Kara Young. Photo: Jeremy Daniel

Cost of Living
By Martyna Majok 
Directed by Jo Bonney
Samuel J. Friedman Theatre
Extended through Nov. 6

By Lauren Yarger
The bonds of love and friendship and just how far they will stretch are the themes behind Martyna Majok's moving play, Cost of Living, getting a Broadway run by Manhattan Theatre Club.

The drama, which focuses on two persons with special needs and their caretakers, won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize.

Jo Bonney ably directs on Wilson Chinn's stark set where a few key props define locale and mood, in harmony with lighting design by Jeff Croiter.

Eddie (David Zayas) and Ani (Katy Sullivan) are a separated married couple. Things are tense, as Ani is still bitter over the "other women" and Eddie struggles to offer help in the aftermath of an accident which has left Ani without the full use of one of her arms and without both her legs. (Sullivan, who was born without legs, is the first female amputee to star in a Broadway role). Ani needs the help and Eddie needs the money, so they proceed in what becomes an awkward dependence on each other and allows them to rekindle the friendship they shared in marriage.

The second story, told in alternating staging with the first, involves Jess (Kara Young), who seems desperate for a caretaking job despite having a degree from Princeton and practically begs John (Gregg Mozgala), for the opportunity to be the wheel-chair bound man's personal aide (both the character and the actor have Cerebral Palsy). John struggles with being vulnerable and dependent, but Jess is determined and a quick friendship -- and maybe more -- develops. We see the development of these two relationships over a four-month period.

The complexity of the situations is honed by Majok's even more developed characters -- all are flawed, but so real that we can't help but like them and root for them. When they don't live up to our expectations, we react with surprise and disappointment just as we would with real friends whom we thought we could trust. Majok interjects just the right amount of humor and human frailty into the script to balance the the depressing nature of the situations in which the characters find themselves during the one hour and 40 minutes without intermission.

In the end, the message is that people need people. And they need to be needed.
"If everything was perfect in yer life, no holes you had to fill, you wouldn’t be here," Ani tells Eddie. She's right. And we need more plays like this that tell stories about real people in the real world.

Cost of Living has been extended through Nov. 6 at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, 261 W. 47th St.) 

Additional credits:
Jessica Pabst (costume design), Rob Kaplowitz (sound design), Mikaal Sulaiman (original music), Thomas Schall (movement consultant). 

FAMILY-FAMILY FACTORS:
-- Language
-- God's name taken in vain
-- Nudity (though discreet)

Covid Protocol:
Masks are required.

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Our reviews are professional reviews written without a religious bias. At the end of them, you can find a listing of language, content or theological issues that Christians might want to know about when deciding which shows to see.

** Mature indicates that the show has posted an advisory because of content. Usually this means I would recommend no one under the age of 16 attend.

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

My Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.” She also has written two other dinner theaters, sketches for church services and devotions for Christian artists. Her play concept, "From Reel to Real: The Jennifer O'Neill Story" was presented as part of the League of professional Theatre Women's Julia's reading Room Series in New York. Shifting from reviewing to producing, Yarger owns Gracewell Productions, which produced the Table Reading Series at the Palace Theater in Waterbury, CT. She trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Intensive and other training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run. She was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She wrote reviews of Broadway and Off-Broadway theater (the only ones you can find in the US with an added Christian perspective) at http://reflectionsinthelight.blogspot.com/.

She is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection (http://ctarts.blogspot.com), an award-winning website featuring theater and arts news for the state. She was a contributing editor for BroadwayWorld.com. She previously served as theater reviewer for the Manchester Journal-Inquirer, Connecticut theater editor for CurtainUp.com and as Connecticut and New York reviewer for American Theater Web.

She is a Co-Founder of the Connecticut Chapter of the League of Professional Theatre Women. She is a former vice president and voting member of The Drama Desk.

She is a freelance writer and playwright (member Dramatists Guild of America). She is a member if the The Outer Critics Circle (producer of the annual awards ceremony) and a member of The League of Professional Theatre Women, serving as Co-Founder of the Connecticut Chapter. Yarger was a book reviewer for Publishers Weekly A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger also worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and served for nine years as the Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. She lives with her husband in West Granby, CT. They have two adult children.

Copyright

All material is copyright 2008- 2022 by Lauren Yarger. Reviews and articles may not be reprinted without permission. Contact reflectionsinthelight@gmail.com

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Key to Content Notes:

God's name taken in vain -- means God or Jesus is used in dialogue without speaking directly to or about them.

Language -- means some curse words are used. "Minor" usually means the words are not too strong or that it only occurs once or twice throughout the show.

Strong Language -- means some of the more heavy duty curse words are used.

Nudity -- means a man or woman's backside, a man's lower front or a woman's front are revealed.

Scantily clad -- means actors' private areas are technically covered, but I can see a lot of them.

Sexual Language -- means the dialogue contains sexually explicit language but there's no action.

Sexual Activity -- means a man and woman are performing sexual acts.

Adultery -- Means a married man or woman is involved sexually with someone besides their spouse. If this is depicted with sexual acts on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Sex Outside of Marriage -- means a man and woman are involved sexually without being married. If this is depicted sexually on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Homosexuality -- means this is in the show, but not physically depicted.

Homosexual activity -- means two persons of the same sex are embracing/kissing. If they do more than that, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Cross Dresser -- Means someone is dressing as the opposite sex. If they do more than that on stage the listing would include the corresponding "sexual activity" and/or "homosexual activity" as well.

Cross Gender -- A man is playing a female part or a woman is playing a man's part.

Suggestive Dancing -- means dancing contains sexually suggestive moves.

Derogatory (category added Fall 2012) Language or circumstances where women or people of a certain race are referred to or treated in a negative and demeaning manner.

Other content matters such as torture, suicide, or rape will be noted, with details revealed only as necessary in the review itself.

The term "throughout" added to any of the above means it happens many times throughout the show.

Reviewing Policy

I receive free seats to Broadway and Off-Broadway shows made available to all voting members of the Outer Critics Circle. Journalistically, I provide an unbiased review and am under no obligation to make positive statements. Sometimes shows do not make tickets available to reviewers. If these are shows my readers want to know about I will purchase a ticket. If a personal friend is involved in a production, I'll let you know, but it won't influence a review. If I feel there is a conflict, I won't review their portion of the production.

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