ANATOL, A Reasonable Facsimile Theatre Company, at the Inner Town Pub. Starting a new company in Chicago is a daunting proposition. With dozens of vibrant, adventurous troupes in town, you’ve got to work overtime to keep from getting lost in the crowd. And the folks at A Reasonable Facsimile Theatre Company have done about a tenth of the work required to earn a viable spot on the city’s off-Loop roster.

Set in turn-of-the-century Vienna, Arthur Schnitzler’s episodic 1893 comedy follows the eponymous libertine through various conquests and failures in love. Each of the play’s seven scenes, spanning 20 years, pairs Anatol with a different paramour, from a 19-year-old social climber to an unhappily married matron to a flighty circus performer. While Anatol treats romance as sport, dallying with many women and comparing the lost ones to discarded umbrellas, he grows pathologically jealous if anyone in his harem cheats on him. Anatol’s emotional hypocrisy is about the only point Schnitzler seems to make in this verbose, repetitive play.

Director Michael Buino packs his cast into full period costumes, then leaves them to wander about the Inner Town Pub’s cruddy little stage, where they rarely fail to look out of place. Patrick Rybarczyk shows considerable charm as Anatol, but most of the other actors are stiff and unconvincing, developing no meaningful chemistry. For the play to have any impact, each relationship must be carefully etched–and here they’re only casually sketched.

–Justin Hayford