Cost Of Living Asks Who Among Us Is Not Damaged
Martyna Majok’s Cost of Living won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize and two Lucille Lortel Awards, including Outstanding Play. I originally saw this play in 2017 at MTC’s Stage I.
Cost of Living forces us to look at loneliness, disabilities, immigration and connection. We first meet Eddie (David Zayas) at a bar on Christmas Eve. He is enthusiastic, a romantic who has lost the women he loves and has made a ‘s with himself that if he talks about doom and gloom he will buy the person having to listen a drink. He has come to the bar to meet the person who is texting him from his dead wife’s phone. What Eddie really wants is someone to ease his loneliness and fear of being alone. Having lost his job due to a DUI, Eddie is an out-of-work long-haul trucker. Eddie longs to be working.
Jess (Kara Young) is an immigrant who went to Princeton ,fallen on hard times. She has come to be a caregiver for John (Gregg Mozgala) who has cerebral palsy. John is a rich, bratty grad student who has gone to Harvard and is now at Princeton. He bates Jess as she tries to prove her worth. Jesse needs every dollar she can earn and John makes her work for her pay. John tells Jess she cannot understand what it is like to be him.
We then meet Ani (Katy Sullivan), a double above-the-knee amputee. Ani is angry at herself, the world but mostly her estranged husband, Eddie, who wants to help her with ideas he’s gleaned from the internet. She tells him a machine has no idea what she is going through. She is a cat with claws out, spitting and fur flying.
The highlight of the piece is when Jess bathes John and starts to feel something real and when Eddie, giving Ani a bath. As he plays her arm like a piano, we see a glimmer of connection.
Ms. Sullivan, is a bilateral amputee and Mr. Mozgala does have cerebral palsy. They are both riveting, especially Ms. Sullivan who is so sharp witted with acidic comic timing and a face that shows everything.
Zayas capturers our hearts as soon as he takes the stage. He is witty and desperately lonely. Ms. Young also draws us into her emotional journey and makes us feel her pain.
The play is haunting, if a little disjointed. You feel as if you have missed a piece of the storyline. This is an expansion from 2015 one-act called John, Who’s Here From Cambridge, and has been expanded by forty minutes from the last production but it leaves you feeling like you missed something.
Obie Award winner Jo Bonney’s staging is fierce and blatant just like the writing. Ms. Bonney brings out the best in this terrific well rounded cast.
The set design by Wilson Chin shows us how circular the past and the present are.
Majok has her hand on the diversity of the world and how the disabled are not necessarily the ones who are damaged.
Cost of Living: Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, 261 West 47th St., until October 30th.
Broadway’s A Doll’s House Meticulously Stunning Revival Soars Like a Birdie Above That Clumsy Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
For a revival to find its footing, it has to have a point of view or a sense of purpose far beyond an actor’s desire to perform a part, whether it suits them or not. It needs to radiate an idea that will make us want to sit up and pay attention. To feel its need to exist. And on one particular day in March, I was blessed with the opportunity to see not just one grande revival, but two. One was a detailed pulled-apart revolutionary revival of Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House that astounded. The other, unfortunately, was a clumsy revival of Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof that fell lazily from that high-wired peak – not for a lack of trying, but from a formulation that never found its purpose.
Relevantly Tuneless Fairytale Bad Cinderella Isn’t Bad, It’s Forgettable
You are seriously asking for it, when you make the title for your musical Bad Cinderella, however the show is not bad, it’s just seriously lacking. For an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, which is normally rich in melody, the only song that has any kind of hold is “Only You, Lonely You” sung by Prince Sebastian (Jordan Dobson or in my performance the wonderful Julio Ray). The lyrics by David Zippel and book by Emerald Fennell, adapted by Alexis Scheer are inane. It doesn’t help that the cast for the most part speaks and sings with mouths full of cotton. The orchestrations sound tinny and computerized, The lead Linedy Genao has no charisma or vocals that soar musically, instead she is rather nasal, like Bernadette Peters with a cold. Why this show is two and a half hours long is beyond me.
The show is based in a town called Belleville (beautiful town en Francais), that is based solely on looks and prides itself on its superficiality. The opening number starts with “Beauty Is Our Duty,” the Queen (a fabulous Grace McLean) is into her hunks including her missing son Charming (Cameron Loyal).
And the fairy godmother (Christina Acosta Robinson) is a plastic surgeon who sings “Beauty Has a Price”. In a day and age, where we are suppose to see past all that, this show is politically incorrect.
Cinderella a Gothic, and a graffiti artist, naturally does not fit into the town’s mold of beauty, which is how she earns her nickname. Her rebel move happens when she defaces a memorial statue of Sebastian’s older brother, Prince Charming. Sebastian is more of a geek, and he and Cinderella are in the “friend zone,” since both lack communication skills in admitting their love.
Sebastian is being forced by his mother, the Queen to find a wife at a ball and invites Cinderella. Cinderella’s stepmother (the always remarkable Carolee Carmello) blackmails the Queen to get one of her daughters Adele (Sami Gayle) or Marie (Morgan Higgins) the gig.
McLean and Carmello are the bright spots in the show and if the show had been about these two, maybe we would actually have a show that could work. These two steal the show.
Cinderella has not one, but two what should have been show stopping numbers “I Know I Have A Heart (Because You Broke It)” and “Far Too Late,” but she does not have the vocals, the character development or the star power to carry them off.
The set and the revenge porn costumes by Gabriela Tylesova, are just over the top, with the storybook set faring much better than the over complicated flowered pastels that waltzed across the stage.
The direction by Laurence Connor is just dull and lacks oomph.
If you like buff men and Chippendale type choreography this is the show for you.
Bad Cinderella, Imperial Theatre, 249 West 45th Street.
Did You Know There Is A Kander & Ebb Way?
On Friday, March 24th, the 96-year-old John Kander was given a Mayoral Proclamation from Mayor Eric Adams in celebration of the first performance of his new Broadway musical New York, New York. Following the proclamation, Lin-Manuel Miranda unveiled the sign renaming 44th Steet ‘Kander & Ebb Way. On hand was the Manhattan School of Music to performed the iconic Kander & Ebb song “New York, New York.”
New York, New York opens Wednesday, April 26, 2023 at Broadway’s St. James Theatre (246 West 44th Street).
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