THE AFFAIRS OF ANATOL by Arthur Schnitzler, 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 Theatre (75 Portland). Runs to October 9, Tuesday-Saturday 8 pm, matinees Saturday-Sunday 2:30 pm. $16-$31. 416-408-2783. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
Everyone has loved a guy like Anatol, the central character in Arthur Schnitzler 's The Affairs Of Anatol . He's rakish, intelligent and genuinely in love. But before you can say "Alfie," you're kvetching about how he done you wrong to all your single friends, who still find him kind of appealing. Against Jackie Chau 's abstract set, Anatol ( John O'Callaghan ) loves and/or loses seven women in as many scenes. Each relationship illuminates an aspect of his character, suggesting that his psyche is littered with lovers, and that he's only himself when he's in love or just out of it.
In some scenes, women from past relationships literally lurk at the edges of the stage in silent witness to his new affairs.
Kathryn Winslow as Gabriele - prim, lovely and married - shares one of the best scenes with Anatol on a rainy Christmas Eve out at the shops; their interaction is charged with melancholy and sexual tension.
Similarly, O'Callaghan's scene with Tara Samuel as Anatol's fiancée Emilie hums with energy. Emilie and Gabriele are Anatol's only emotional equals. Of course, he leaves them in a fit of jealous rage. Other scenes are okay, but the actors play to clichés: the childlike girlfriend, the married lady and the egomaniacal ballerina are amusing but quickly grow cold.
Director Sue Miner attempts to link Schnitzler with Freud and Jung in this production. I know this is true not from the play itself but from the Jungian consultant listed in the program. Otherwise, it's not clear what they have to do with each other.
Are the girlfriends supposed to represent something?
Is Anatol's relationship with Max ( James Murray ) more than platonic? What's it all about, Anatol?
Schnitzler and Freud were contemporaries, but here they seem as related as Daniel MacIvor is to Dr. Phil. A cleaner, clearer execution of the link between the two men would have made this play extraordinary.
Uneven pacing and rusty scene transitions slow the pace to a crawl, and some scenes seem haunted by a message that never quite comes across.
Like my relationship with my own personal Anatol, this play left me feeling cheated and incomplete.