June 7, 2017

John has cerebral palsy. Ani is a double above-the-knee amputee. Neither has patience for tactful solicitude or delicate terminology. John warns Jess, the caregiver he hires to dress and shower him, that the term “differently abled” is “retarded.” Most of what Ani tells her estranged husband, Eddie, who wants to help her with ideas he’s gleaned from the internet, cannot be printed here.

So the first of many great things about Martyna Majok’s “Cost of Living,” which opened on Wednesday in a gripping Manhattan Theatre Club production, is the way it slams the door on uplifting stereotypes. John is no sympathy case but a rich, bratty grad student at Princeton, protective of his privilege. Ani is a hilariously foul-mouthed North Jersey terror: a cat, as Ms. Majok puts it, that refuses to be petted. You get the feeling she was like that long before the accident that made her quadriplegic and that going soft now would be, well, crippling.