The Diary of Anne Frank – Fringe 2013
by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett
adapted by Wendy Kesselman
Fringe 2013 – Duddingston Kirk Manse Gardens
Aug 31, 7.30pm, Brunton Theatre Musselburgh
” …genuinely moving”
This was an entirely new production and returned, full circle, to the Brunton Theatre on August 31st after the Fringe.
Syria, Egypt Iraq: the whole of the African continent is riddled with battle and the terrifying spectre of Nazism isn’t far from our own shores in Europe yet again as the guise of austerity measures are used to restrict rights and freedoms of the peoples.
Just An Ordinary Girl
Anne (Anna) Frank is no saint. She is just an ordinary girl thrown into extraordinary circumstances as she and her innocent family are caught in the madness that was Hitler’s war and her story is told here within the context of two Jewish families fleeing from Nazism– their fears, their hopes, their laughter and grief.
Performed as an outdoor performance against the stunning backdrop of Duddingston Kirk Manse Gardens, the drama is heightened by the incredible atmospheric sky as dusk approaches; the drawing in of the night mirroring the increasingly claustrophobic realities of the families’ daily existence.
In true Theatre Alba tradition, (now the longest running Independent Professional Theatre company in Scotland, having formed in 1981), the production reunited many seasoned cast members alongside new talent to keep the show as fresh and dynamic as the day the company was conceived.
Edinburgh Reporter Review **** (Four Stars)
The loch-side gardens of Duddingston Kirk Manse might sound like an unlikely venue for a production of The Diary of Anne Frank but the simple stage, hemmed in by a concentration camp gate and fencing, evokes the requisite sense of both confinement and ever-present danger.
Only the audience know how the story ends as the Frank and van Dann families arrive at their new home, a cramped, secret annex above offices in Amsterdam, with the strong-willed, fun-loving and creative Anne bouncing through the apartment oblivious to the difficulties that lie ahead and the danger she and her family are in. Anne is played by a young woman (Andrea Mackenzie) but she convinces as a child and we see the action mainly through her innocent eyes, as unseen to the two families, Nazis patrol the outside streets.
All of the protagonists know that betrayal or detection are constant possibilities and that the trains of Jews leaving for the east can only be for elimination. But we also see heroism in humanity, mainly in the shape of Miep Gies (Amy Conway, also excellent) who shelters the families and brings food and news, and who also narrates parts of the tale from Anne’s precious diaries.
The families attempt to continue life as normally as possible. Hanukkah is celebrated and presents exchanged. Anne squabbles with, then grows close to, the van Dann’s son, Peter. But as the months go by the tension mounts and the friction between family members increases. News of the Normandy invasion brings joy and huge relief but we know it has come too late. As daylight fades around us, the tragic denouement of their betrayal unfolds to a background of darkness. Only Otto, Anne’s father, survives. As the curtain falls he documents the last sightings of his family and their fate. We are reminded of the full horror of war and the price paid by the innocent, and it is genuinely moving.
Theatre Alba have a long tradition of performing classic stories, such as Chekhov, along with traditional Scots plays. Like Communicado and 7:84 the feeling is of a company by the people of Scotland for the people of Scotland, and their commitment to serious drama is evident. This is a company to be cherished and this production is a particular success.
Reviewer : Ronald Orr
Celebrated Scottish Playwright Jo Clifford wrote :
” Nowolskielski is a lone wolf; a fiercely independent maverick who pursues his own concerns and theatrical lives irrespective of fashion and popular demand.
He also happens to be one of the country’s best directors, working every year with a consistent core of committed, passionate and skilled actors. Together they create an ‘Anne Frank’ of astonishing poignancy and power. >>More…