Theater Review: ‘The Cost Of Living’ Brilliantly Explores The Struggle To Connect
“Only to connect,” that was the theme of E.M. Forrester’s classic Howard’s End, and, a century later, it’s also the through-line of the Pulitzer-Prize-winning play The Cost Of Living by Martyna Mojak, which opened Monday night at the Samuel Friedman Theater in its Broadway debut after a successful off-Broadway run.
The show opens with truck driver Eddie (David Zayas) being invited for a drink at a Williamsburg bar by his dead wife over text – it may or may not have been new women assigned his wife’s phone number. The next scene cuts to Jess (Kara Young), a struggling college graduate trying to make ends meet, caring for John (Greg Mozgala), a privileged wheelchair-bound grad student with cerebral palsy. Both are lonely and needy but the power differential is yet to become clear. In the following scene, we see Eddie begging his ex wife Ani (Katy Sullivan), in wheelchair due to a car accident, to let him care for her so he can earn extra money.
And so it goes, scenes cutting back and forth in parallel, as we learn more about the frailty of each character as some surprising plot twists unfold. This deeply humane drama explores the ideas of power in relationships and our need ultimately to be loved and wanted. The Cost Of Living masterfully depicts the poignancy of human interdependence with each other – and how we long to… “only connect.”
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