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When: Wednesdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m., Sundays, 2 & 7 p.m. and Tuesdays, 7 p.m. Continues through May 13 2012
Price: $30-$48

Written by Arthur Schnitzler -- a contemporary of Freud's in the upper-class, largely Jewish milieu of 1890s Vienna -- in 1893, Anatol features as its antihero and title character a neurotic, well-off lothario. Along with his best friend and comic foil Max (Tim Kniffin), Anatol (Mike Ryan) is essentially sleeping his way through the women of Vienna's upper crust -- all played by Delia MacDougall -- with reckless abandon and startling efficiency. It's a setup that could easily derive its comedy at the expense of the women, or, worse, feel dated, but Aurora Theatre Company's production avoids both dangers. Much of this is by virtue of the script, but Margaret Schaefer also deserves major credit for her natural-sounding translation, as does Barbara Oliver for her direction: In this Anatol, the title character is played not as an unassailable charmer but as a naïvely deluded man-boy, one that works well against the sparkling, slow-burning wit MacDougall manages to inject into all of her characters. Thus, it's really a play about the misunderstandings inherent in any romantic relationship and about the lies we tell ourselves and others. In that sense, it's timeless. Through May 13 at Aurora Theatre Company (2081 Addison St., Berkeley). $30-$48. 510-843-4822 or

— Ellen Cushing


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