Cost of Living at Hampstead Theatre
Martyna Majok’s beautiful play comes to the UK to toy with our emotions, pulling the audience one way before dragging them back the other.
Cost of Living follows four people living with disability and/or poverty. It’s a deeply important exploration of marginalised people in our society and the relationships between them.
Eddie rekindles things with his wife Ani when he starts to care for her after her accident. Across town, John hires Jess, a poor woman working non-stop to send money to her family, to be his carer.
This play is funny, endearing and bitterly tragic in equal measure. Majok’s writing is not just deep and meaningful but really, truly engrossing. At 1 hour 45 minutes straight through, lesser productions would crumble as audiences start to switch off. But Majok’s words grip to the very end. Of course, the comfortable seats at Hampstead Theatre are partly to thank.
Adrian Lester, of BBC’s Hustle fame, or more recently Mary Queen of Scots, is the main event as Eddie. As a seasoned, Oliver Award-winning theatre actor, he certainly doesn’t disappoint and performs the role with incredible love and delicacy. This being said, the rest of the cast are phenomenal too. Katy Sullivan as Ani, Jack Hunter as John and Emily Barber as Jess are all mesmerising to watch.
The set design is also rather stunning. The divide between rich and poor is evident as the set juxtaposes John’s fairly wealthy residence with Ani’s place, full of dreary colour and broken bath tiles, almost suggestive of squalor. More spectacular elements – such as a car, covered in ice and snow, mounted on the wall and rain falling on the stage – really build the world around the characters and create a sense of how isolated these people are.
Cost of Living is a thoroughly enjoyable play with deep meaning that comes at an important time. The show really is something special and well worth a watch.
Photo: Manuel Harlan
Cost of Living is at Hampstead Theatre from 24th January until 9th March 2019. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.