People the world over continue to fight for basic human rights, and this timely production of The Diary of Anne Frank by The Consortium Theatre Company is a stark reminder of the worst that can happen in that regard.
Amy Dawson reprises the role of Anne Frank, and anyone familiar with the novel will know she does an excellent job of playing the ever-optimistic thirteen year old writer. This minimalist production shows the reality of living in a tiny space with eight other people, and on stage Anne grows up before our eyes, her childish petulance, her dislike of her mother and her budding romance all heartbreakingly translucent.
Robert Galas, as Peter van Daan, plays a wonderfully shy sixteen year old whose life has been turned upside down and is a gentle, lovely counterpart to Anne’s brash excitement. Christopher Timothy, playing Otto Frank, does a remarkable job as the family patriarch, just as Steven Pinder plays a father on the passive aggressive, not-very-nice side. Kerry Peers, playing Edith Frank, does a fantastic job of being the family matriarch, complete with despair and staunch determination to keep her family fed.
Truly, the whole cast is excellent, and performs the piece with thought and economy, a testament to their skill, as performing something like this could easily become shallow and sensationalist. Above all, what comes through is the absolute humanity of those people brought together through horror. No one is a saint, no one a sinner—all are just humans trying to survive.
Perhaps the most riveting aspect of this adaptation is the use of sound: from bells tolling the hour, to Eisenhower booming from the wireless, to the silent expectation as Mrs. Frank cuts the special cake into eight small slices, sound or the lack of it draws attention to every moment of their time in the special annex.
The only problem was that occasionally, as the actors moved around the stage, their backs are occasionally turned to the audience, making hearing them difficult. But perhaps that’s not unlike what would have happened in a small, secret house. One last tip—the program is a lovely wealth of information, not only about Anne Frank, but about civil rights in modern times as well.
The Diary of Anne Frank is at the Theatre Royal from Tuesday 8 to Saturday 12 May 2012.