Theater: Clinging to the Ideals of Youth the Common Pursuit by Simon Gray

Simon Gray, 50, is the laureate of the intellectual as moral vandal. His best plays, from Butley (1971) and Otherwise Engaged (1975) to the witty and poignant The Common Pursuit, which opened off- Broadway last week, depict men of privilege and potential who, out of indifference or gleeful masochism, systematically degrade everything around them, not least their own bright promise. They are apt to view their intelligence either as a burden, leading people to expect things of them, or as an outright curse, lifting their vision just enough to comprehend genius but nowhere near enough to emulate it. Well into their...

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