The Theater: Divorce in Sportive High Style

THE NEW YORK IDEA by LANGDON MITCHELL

This comedy was written by a Harvard-educated lawyer and first presented in 1906. The play is surprisingly un-spavined by age. It is the genre to which it belongs that has disappeared. Social comedy based on the code of an assured upper class has withered away with the democratization of that class and the loss of its role as the arbiter of manners.

The last substantial U.S. playwright in this mode was Philip Barry, whose The Philadelphia Story is brought to mind by The New York Idea. Essentially,...

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