Somewhere in Bayonne, New Jersey, a middle-aged truck driver pines to care for his estranged wife, a woman he’s loved “the fuck outta” for “two decades and a year almost.” A car accident misaligned the woman’s spine, rendering her physically immobile and his guilt insatiable, even though he did not cause the crash. Meanwhile, about an hour south on I-95, a young woman vies for a caretaking position posted by a Princeton University Ph.D. candidate with cerebral palsy. The young woman already has two jobs bartending at night, but needs more money. Conveniently, he only needs assistance during the day and has a lot of money to give. It takes some agitating, but eventually both the truck driver and bartender get their gigs. The result is as theatrically evocative as it is soberingly human.
Martyna Majok’s 2018 Pulitzer winner “Cost of Living,” now making its Broadway premiere at Manhattan Theatre Club’s Friedman Theatre, is a masterfully managed story of class, privilege, ability and shame. Eddie (David Zayas) is the aforementioned truck driver. He slouches on a bar stool, lamenting directly to the audience about being in that bar in the first place. Eddie’s opening monologue, performed by Zayas with the somber and soul of blues music, reveals that it’s atypical for him to be out in Williamsburg of all places this late on a frigid December night. Something unusual has happened: He just received a series of texts from the deceased love of his life, Ani (Katy Sullivan). The texts lure him to this bar, but the sender is nowhere to be found. He’s ghosted by a ghost.