By Sandi Durell
Expect the unexpected in Martyna Majok’s play at Manhattan Theatre Club.
It’s a play about everyday and extraordinary people who are hurting, lost and lonely as we peer into their lives of what could be two separate plays within the same theme highlighting the upheaval and emotional impact that pervades their sorrowful days.
We first meet Eddie (Victor Williams) in his opening monologue to a guy in a bar (us the audience). Eddie is a trucker who has lost his wife and trying to deal with the great sadness that is now his life of memories that flood his days. Unable to get work as a trucker, he is now a caregiver to an angry and vituperative disabled Ani (Katy Sullivan) who lost her legs in an accident and lives in a wheelchair. She is loud and cusses up a storm having no choice but to rely on help. The scene of Eddie bathing Ani with such loving devotion explodes into awkward candor allowing for Ani’s rage to quiet, even for a moment, as deeper emotions are revealed.
Mirroring are John (Gregg Mozgala), who has cerebral palsy and gets around in a wheelchair, a bright young well-to-do grad student at Princeton studying for a PhD in need of a caregiver. He has advertised for help rather than go to an agency and when Jess (Jolly Abraham) appears as a candidate, the banter is light and funny in descriptions of his needs – someone to shave and shower him daily. Jess works several jobs at various bars and is eager for the money, her anxiety level high and she is filled with faux pas.
John is egotistical and his treatment for Jess, although unwarranted, reveals his uncaring thoughtlessness. Jess is led down a path of wanting to believe there might be more as they get to know each other.
As the stories blend and meld, Martyna Majok’s point is succinctly evident. Need may be extremely different, but we are all bonded by a commonality – the need for and to love. The play can be inconsistent and confusing at times, but the humanity is never lost.
Katy Sullivan is a former Paralympic Games track and fielder and Gregg Mozgala does have CP.
Jo Bonney directs this powerful cast with great sensitivity on Wilson Chin’s turntable stage.
Photos: Joan Marcus
Cost of Living runs 100 minutes (no intermission) at Manhattan Theatre Club, City Center, NYC www.manhattantheatreclub.com