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Farce about divorce in 1906 is `The New York Idea'

Farce about divorce in 1906 is `The New York Idea'

As a satire about marital foibles among the privileged class in 1906 New York, Atlantic Theater Company's new adaptation of "The New York Idea" is sprightly good fun, with complex characters, witty dialogue and some very funny, often farcical scenes.
Adapted by Pulitzer- and Tony Award-winning playwright David Auburn from Langdon Mitchell's 1906 play, the appealing period production opened Wednesday night off-Broadway at the Lucille Lortel Theatre.
While it may lack the sparkling relevance of the original turn-of-the-century production, which gently skewered the then-shocking trend among the rich favoring casual divorce, this adaptation provides a window into a historical time when American freedoms and values often clashed.
Two divorced society couples are thrown together again, as one of the men is about to marry the other man's ex-wife.
Youthful, impetuous Cynthia Karslake, (Jaime Ray Newman), a racehorse owner who divorced her first husband after a tantrum, is about to marry stodgy Judge Philip Philimore (Michael Countryman).
Meanwhile her ex-husband, John, (Jeremy Shamos) and Philimore's bohemian ex-wife, Vida, (Francesca Faridany) have suddenly converged on the judge's household, each with a secret agenda about the pending wedding.
Needless to say, comical misunderstandings ensue. Director Mark Brokaw creates an often-farcical pace, with characters frequently barging in on one another at inconvenient times. Handsome, detailed costumes and sets enhance the turn-of-the-century atmosphere.
Complicating matters is the presence of a dashing, wealthy English bachelor, played with rakish appeal by Rick Holmes, who makes a cheerfully immoral, last-minute attempt upon the affections of both women.
Faridany is a vivacious standout, as a merry divorcee with a flippant attitude toward society's restrictive conventions. As her ex-husband angrily puts it, her theory of marriage was "the New York idea of marriage. Marry for whim and leave the rest to luck and the divorce courts."
Spirited Cynthia has decided to marry the dull judge without loving him, so she does not fail at marriage again. Newman gives her willful character an appropriate sense of irony, amid subtle indications that Cynthia might still have feelings for John.
The men are much more traditionally minded than the women, taking a dim view of their ex-wives' casual attitudes toward their marriage vows. Warning the judge that Cynthia might well "ricochet on" to somebody else, John says gloomily, "Monogamy's as extinct as knee-britches."
Brokaw has assembled an impressive group of theater veterans to handle the supporting roles, including Patricia Conolly and Patricia O'Connell as a pair of proper dowagers; a very funny John Keating as an uppity servant; Peter Maloney as a stodgy, blustery cousin to the Philimores; and Joey Slotnick in an amusing portrayal of a briskly practical clergyman.
Although sometimes the action feels strained, particularly the abrupt ending, the clever dialogue and good-humored spirit of fun carry the day in this winning production.
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http://www.atlantictheater.org


Updated : 2021-03-01 10:06 GMT+08:00