Katy Sullivan and David Zayas in “Cost of Living” Credit: Julieta Cervantes photo

Have you ever seen a play that takes your breath away? That’s what “Cost of Living” does. This 2018 Pulitzer Prize winner for drama is one of the most compassionate plays you will ever experience and it is simply talking about the experiences of being human and the importance of interaction for human beings. It also lets one see that they should never judge someone else because all you see is what’s on the surface. You don’t have any idea of the struggles that people are going through. We as human beings are also distrusting and on the defensive. What’s candid about this play is when a vulnerable character puts down her guard it is not a happy ending, but one more tragic than you could imagine. Playwright Martyna Majok takes the audience into the experiences of four people: one couple and one employee and her employer.

Majok looks at the elements in life that separate people like education, wealth and our own misconceptions of people solely based on first impressions and outside appearances. Majok has characters that have severe disabilities and characters that though physically healthy, are experiencing anguish, anxiety and stress in their own ways. The characters are Jess, John, Eddie and Ani. This is definitely the type of play you must go into as primarily a blank slate and just be prepared to absorb the humor, the pain, the frustrations and the vulnerability of these characters.

The cast of four is the most brilliant, captivating set of thespians you will have the good fortune to experience on a Broadway stage. Kara Young as Jess brings a gentleness, a feistiness, a sadness, a sense of care for her fellow man and a vulnerability and mystery that will endear her to your heart. Gregg Mozgala is completely captivating as John. He brings a sense of truth, candor, defensiveness and vulnerability as well. Watching these two characters start to reveal their layers is stunning. David Zayas is an actor you won’t take your eyes off of. He comes to this role with a great deal of heart, humor, compassion and self-reflection. Katy Sullivan gives Ani’s every emotion to the highest level. You feel her pain, fear, insecurity and her moments of appreciation.

Watching “Cost of Living” you realize that life isn’t just about waking up in the morning, but it’s about the quality of life you live while you are among others. It is about the quality of life you experience when you’re by yourself. The playwright also brings home the point that we can’t control what happens in our lives, but we can choose to acknowledge, embrace and bring joy to a moment that could be difficult. “Cost of Living” is a play that has life lessons that will stay with you for decades to come. Jo Benney provides superb direction. She makes the actors and the audience experience every interaction.

This play is a Manhattan Theatre Club production in association with Williamstown Theatre Festival and is playing at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre on West 47th Street. The scenic design by Wilson Chin, costumes by Jessica Pabst, lighting by Jeff Croiter and sound by Rob Kaplowitz so beautifully and smoothly work together to bring this story to amazing life.

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