Critics are singing the highest of praises for Cost of Living, the heart-wrenching, touching, and funny Broadway premiere of Martyna Majok’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play. Thoughtfully directed and featuring masterclass acting performances, critics left the theatre in awe and grateful to have experienced the show, which all agree made marked improvements over its already highly successful off-broadway mounting.
The New York Times Review of Cost of Living
“Cost of Living” impressively teeters between two main axes — the body, and the economy of its care — without toppling over. There’s a satisfying parallelism to the dynamics between the two pairs — the chemistry, the witty repartee, the heartbreak one character offers, intentionally or unintentionally, to another. Each twosome exists in their separate bubbles of Jersey life until they finally intersect. And yet Majok’s sharp writing is never predictable; even when she seems to be leading us down the path to a conventional love story, she pivots and offers an unexpected development. … Bonney’s direction adds an extra layer of cohesion to the story: subtle connections that bridge the worlds. … Each of the four cast members performs with a three-dimensional pop of life. … 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.
TimeOut Review of Cost of Living
Astutely directed by Jo Bonney, Cost of Living premiered at Manhattan Theatre Club in 2017 and has moved up to MTC’s Broadway flagship venue for an encore run; in between, it won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. I wasn’t entirely sold, I admit, on the 2017 production. I was glad for the platform it provided for the gifted Sullivan and Mozgala (who are disabled in real life), and I knew that the play contained at least one achingly beautiful scene—in which Eddie plays imaginary piano music along Ani’s arm as she sits in a tub—that would be etched in my memory forever. But Majok’s structure of alternating scenes struck me as schematic, with too neat a final tie-in of its two strands of plot. 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 attuned 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 other actors 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.
New York Post Review of Cost of Living
The guts of Martyna Majok’s absorbing play “Cost of Living,” which opened on Broadway Monday night at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, come from how forcefully the show pushes back against our expectations for a story like this one. … If most of “Cost of Living” is invigorating for not leaning on easy answers or stereotypical, Hallmark Channel characters, the ending aims to nourish audiences in a more traditional manner we’ve become accustomed to. And it does. Still, in zig-zagging away from well-tread paths, Majok arrives at a destination we hadn’t planned to visit, but are pleased to be at nonetheless.
Variety Review of Cost of Living
There’s writing specific characters that shimmer with universal truth, then there’s managing to capture, in the span of 100 minutes, how it feels to be alive. “Cost of Living,” which won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for drama, achieves insights about the human condition by zooming in on its particulars, compelling audiences to question what we take for granted and what might happen if we didn’t. It’s a heart-opening exercise in empathy deftly suited to the form, the kind of theater that imprints on the body and lives in your bones. And, oh — how you’ll laugh! It’s how anyone manages to carry on, isn’t it? … The Manhattan Theatre Club production has been expanded in scope and its sense of resonance deepened to suit the larger scale of Broadway. Director Jo Bonney’s staging feels at once grounded in the minimally suggested Garden State interiors of Wilson Chin’s set, and afloat on a cosmic plane that suits the play’s inspection of everyday life for its most essential stuff. … But the sensational and delicately inhabited performances by the cast make “Cost of Living” one of the most poignant and arresting new dramas on Broadway in recent memory.