THE AFFAIRS OF ANATOL by Arthur Schintzler, adapted by Granville Barker, directed by Sue Miner, with John O'Callaghan, Marie Beath Badian, Kim Kuhteubl, Lindsay McMahon, Stacie Mistysyn, Tara Samuel, Darlene Spencer, Kathryn Winslow and James Murray. Presented by Glastonbury West in association with Naked in the Wings at Artword (75 Portland). Previews begin tonight (Thursday, September 15), opens Saturday night (September 17) and runs to October 9, Tuesday-Saturday 8 pm, matinees Saturday and Sunday 2:30 pm. $16-$31. www.totix.ca. Rating: NNNNN
Some people are addicted to food, some to liquor, some to sex. Anatol, the title character in Arthur Schnitzler's The Affairs Of Anatol, is addicted to love. That's director Sue Miner's theory, anyway.
In a series of seven scenes, Anatol tries to resolve his relationships with seven women, single and married.
"I don't see him as a Lothario or a rascal," says Miner, who helmed a fine production of Bella Donna in last summer's Fringe. "Instead, he's a guy who really believes that true love exists and that he completely loves each woman when he meets her.
"We realized during rehearsals that each time Anatol starts afresh, he thinks he'll get it right. We've all had that feeling - no matter how much love turns us upside down, we know we can make a new relationship perfect."
Schnitzler's play hints at his later and better-known work, La Ronde, whose 10 scenes connect pairs of lovers in a daisy chain. Here, Anatol deals with seven contrasted women, all of whom Miner sees as complete characters.
"Even after he rejects them, in my imagination each of them lives happily ever after," she says with a smile.
Choosing the actors was a joy, recalls the director, "especially seeing the 70 or so women who wanted to be part of the company.
"I could have cast it three times over," she enthuses, "but there was something about the group of women we've chosen" - here Miner uses her hands to show an expanding space - "who had an energy that made us feel they were part of the puzzle that's this play."
There's another male figure, Anatol's friend Max, who in one way lives vicariously through Anatol's amorous adventures and, though he's shyer and more private, is also something of a shit disturber.
"Both of them are idlers," says Miner, "guys who don't have to work. That means that Anatol has way too much time to analyze his relationships, sometimes to death. Perhaps if he had a job he wouldn't be so obsessive.
"The two friends are like the men in Sideways - there's the wild guy and the one who tries to keep his feet on the ground."
Miner ultimately sees Anatol as a sympathetic figure, someone who might be starting to change by the end of the play.
"But he first has to overcome his jealousy, a belief that if the woman even thinks about another man she's been unfaithful. He's bought into that paradigm of a true, all-consuming love, and it's his tragic flaw."