Simon Gray’s new play, The Common Pursuit, has been something of a literary event in New York this season. Or perhaps I should say a New York event. The night I went to see it at the newly renovated Promenade Theatre on Upper Broadway, a significant proportion of the audience consisted of celebrities. I spotted Lorne Michaels, the director of Saturday Night Live, in the company of Paul Simon; Robert Bernstein, the president of Random House; and Claus von Bülow, accompanied by his mistress and his daughter, Cosima, in a leopard-skin leotard. A disparate group, united only by their visibility on the scene; but sufficiently notable to establish that something of importance was happening at the Promenade.

The reviews had been good (or is it enough to say that Frank Rich liked it?), but I’d grown wary of New York theater after a few recent experiences—Wallace...


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