We’re into reverse Platonic stages of reality now: Neil Simon, the playhouse, is on Broadway, at West Forty-fifth and dark; Neil Simon, the play, is off-Broadway, at the Union Square Theatre and packed; and Neil Simon, the playwright, is somewhere far out of sight, possibly in a row boat adrift off the coast of Labrador. If you crossed a lemming with a sloth, you’d come up with something approximating what remains of New York theater, but nothing symbolizes its stately spiral downward—the safer and safer vehicles playing to smaller and smaller audiences—quite like London Suite.

At one time, Simon was Broadway’s most successful playwright; then, he was Broadway’s only playwright; now, even he can aspire no higher than East Seventeenth Street. And what’s brought him to his off-Broadway debut? Nothing bold or brave or experimental, but a cozy rehash of familiar characters and ...

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