The New York Idea, presented by the Atlantic Theater Company at the Lucille Lortel Theatre, is billed as a “sharp-tongued comedy” that “shines a surprisingly contemporary light on social mores, status, and attitudes about sex and divorce in high society.” The play was originally written by Langdon Mitchell in 1907 and adapted by David Auburn, taking place in Greenwich Village, New York and lasting four acts with a handful of characters all connected through the marriage of divorcees.
Like a romantic British play, The New York Idea deals with propriety and social parameters but the prim and proper British are substituted for Americans who live by their whims and who are decidedly loose. Cynthia Karslake (Jaime Ray Newman) supposedly divorced her husband, John Karslake (Jeremy Shamos), for no reason. Cynthia then decides to marry the stable and boring Philip Philimore (Michael Countryman) who was once married to Vida Philimore (Francesca Faridany). Vida, as her name would suggest, is full of life and has a reputation of being a seductress and manages to lure the wealthy, British Wilfred Cates-Darby (Rick Holmes).
The play is upbeat and has some great comedic moments but lacks the pacing and energy to make it great. The story feels very modern but is also very predictable. The best moments came with a quip from Vida (Francesca Faridany) who was so good that I couldn’t help but watch her expressions as the other actors spoke, waiting for her witty remarks to interrupt the annoying sniveling of the other characters. Though they had everything and were living in New York City, the other characters were lame, stuck on the way their lives should be instead of living in the moment. The sets and costumes, however, were elegant and shiny which added some luster to the less than stellar overall performance.
All in all, The New York Idea is an enjoyable and funny but somewhat predictable play.