"The Diary of Anne Frank"
May 01, 2007
With "The Diary of Anne Frank,"
Prime Stage Theatre once again brings to life a literary
classic in a thought-provoking and entertaining manner.
It is a well-known tale: Anne
Frank's family and four other Jews in Amsterdam hide from the
Nazis in a small annex of an office building. The group of
eight spends two years in cramped quarters, living in fear,
longing for the outside world, growing up and trying to hang
on to hope, with all of it recorded in teenage Anne's diary.
The play is an ensemble piece,
with especially moving performances from Alan Solter and
Deborah Wein as Anne's parents, Otto and Edith. Thomas Kurt
Fuchel Sr. and Patricia Samreny as Mr. and Mrs. van Daan,
Charlie Wein as their teenage son, Peter, Ronald Fernandez as
Mr. Dussel, and Renana Fox as Anne's sister, Margot, all give
unwavering portrayals of confusion, fright, anger, pettiness
But it is the character of Anne
that will make or break the famous story, and Olivia Meyer
carries the title role with aplomb. Also 13, she not only
resembles Anne, but she also captures the girl's spirit, one
minute being a headstrong and irritating teen and the next
showing maturity beyond her years, trying to still believe in
the goodness of people. Meyer has little acting experience,
making her naturalness as Anne even more noteworthy.
The two-hour production never
drags, thanks to the deft direction of Wayne Brinda. The
material is familiar, yet Brinda is able to insert some
unpredictable moments, and the discovery scene is still
climactic. Set designer Gianni Downs takes full advantage of
the New Hazlett Theater, creating an authentic space that
restricts the characters without limiting the acting. During
scene changes, Meyer's narration of passages from Anne's diary
and projections of Anne's photos on the back wall add to the
Chat sessions featuring local
members of Hidden Children of the Holocaust follow each
performance. It is Prime Stage's continued effort to encourage
discussion and show how Anne's story is still relevant.