THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK
adapted by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett.
Tour to 26 May 2012.
Runs 2hr 30min One interval.
Review: Alan Geary: 8 May at Theatre Royal Nottingham.
A warts-and-all adaptation, making an absorbing evening.
A single set for The Diary of Anne Frank helps to emphasise the claustrophobic atmosphere sustained throughout. And it’s a semi-stylised set, that can operate as two separate rooms. A tantalizing stretch of sky overhangs, with a suspended bike, trapeze and bookcase, symbolic of the ordinary pleasures of life from which the denizens of the attic are cruelly excluded. On this set a famous real-life tragedy is acted out, one which doesn’t have to be seen primarily out of a sense of duty: it makes an absorbing evening.
This is a warts-and-all adaptation dealing with un-heroic flesh and blood mortals, not saints. Anne hates her mother, for instance; and in such a constricted living space there are terrible rows and tensions between and inside the families.
All three actors playing the young people succeed in developing them in terms of age. But, as the pre-pubescent Anne, Amy Dawson is unconvincing. She, and Robert Galas as Peter van Daan, are altogether better in their shared scenes as older people. Victoria Ross, as Margot, is particularly good when she admits to being jealous of Anne.
It doesn’t work when the disembodied voice of Anne is reading from her diary; it sounds too mature and sophisticated for either the child or the older Anne. Sadly, Christopher Timothy employs a stage Jewish voice for Otto Frank. The foreign accent is legitimate though since the Franks are Germans living in Holland.
By the summer of 1944, with D-Day, all are at or near the end of their tether. The fugitives have a wireless in their attic on which they, and we, can hear Eisenhower announcing the Allied landings and the certainty of victory. This heightens the irony that the Franks and van Daans are captured when liberation is imminent.
Anne’s last words in the diary are famously positive – she affirms her abiding faith in human nature. That, and possibly the fact that (in Nottingham) the Berlin Symphony Orchestra were simultaneously doing their stuff next door to the theatre, surely made some leave the play feeling that, despite everything, the human spirit had won in the end.
Anne Frank: Amy Dawson.
Peter van Daan: Robert Galas.
Mr Dussell: Dominic Gately.
Mrs van Daan: Sarah Ingram.
German Security Police Officer: Philip Marriot.
Miep Gies: Sally Oliver.
Edith Frank: Kerry Peers.
Mr van Daan: Steven Pinder.
Margot Frank: Victoria Ross.
Otto Frank: Christopher Timothy.
Mr Kraler: Andrew Westfield.
Director: Nikolai Foster.
Designer: Morgan Large.
Lighting: Richard G Jones.
Sound/Composer: David Shrubsole.