(Adaptation by Wendy Kesselman)
Directed by Kirk Wills
Wednesday 25th - Saturday 28th February 2015
Sheringham Little Theatre
In this transcendently powerful new adaptation by Wendy Kesselman, Anne Frank emerges from history a living, lyrical, intensely gifted young girl, who confronts her rapidly changing life and the increasing horror of her time with astonishing honesty, wit, and determination. An impassioned drama about the lives of eight people hiding from the Nazis in a concealed storage attic, THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK captures the claustrophobic realities of their daily existence - their fear, their hope, their laughter, their grief. Each day of these two dark years, Anne's voice shines through: "When I write I shake off all my cares. But I want to achieve more than that. I want to be useful and bring enjoyment to all people, even those I've never met. I want to go on living even after my death!" This is a new adaptation for a new generation.
"In this gripping new adaptation by Wendy Kesselman, from the original stage play by Goodrich and Hackett, newly discovered writings from the diary of Anne Frank, as well as survivor accounts, are interwoven to create a contemporary impassioned story of the lives of people persecuted under Nazi rule. This is an adaptation for a new generation able to confront the true horrors of the Holocaust.
Anne Frank - Olivia Taylor
Margot - Victoria Stowell
Otto Frank - Matt Scantlebury
Edith Frank - Janet Hignett
Mr Van Daan - Martin Rodwell
Mrs Van Daan - Philippa Baillie
Peter Van Daan - Zachary Green
Mr Dussel - Richard Delahaye
Miep - Alice Rotchell
Mr Kraler - Carl Denis
EDP Review - 26th Feb 2015
I have heard rumours that this adaptation of Anne Frank by Wendy Kesselman is soon to transfer to London's West End.
If that's so, it seems to me that the lead in Cromer and Sheringham Operatic and Dramatic Society's production is every bit as good as any professional counterpart... maybe even better.
Olivia Taylor as Anne Frank is so well worth seeing, that I wouldn't want you to miss her for anything.
Her understated approach to the performance is just right for the material; this is an interpretation which shows judgement well beyond her 15 years.
Which is not to detract from the others on stage, because all the characters are well drawn and consistent. I was impressed by the level of the whole ensemble.
And director Kirk Wills really gives them the chance to shine. The apartment where Anne's Jewish family hides from the Nazis is arranged over many levels, so that we see the characters going about their business all the time. It's a clever device, which gives a sense of the relentless proximity their imprisonment inflicted.
The show coincides with a major project at Sheringham High School to highlight the holocaust, also set in motion by Wills. It's good to see some joined up thinking between the theatre and the local community. Bravo all round.
The show runs until Saturday.
Review by Su Dupont NODA East Regional Rep ~ 25th February 2015
First impressions on entering the theatre: the set and how clever to manage the multi-level staging on that tiny stage to represent the annexe and the living conditions during the hiding of the Frank family and friends. The attention to detail throughout in set and props and costume etc should be particularly congratulated, quite meticulous, in period, and very convincing. I must also mention how hard the sound and lighting department worked, Peter Gray had so much in the way of background street noise, clocks etc plus all those radio broadcasts all meticulously cued in, and also the area lighting required by the action and set.
The play very well cast and bringing out the problems with more than one family unit cramped and imprisoned in a small annexe for the duration: the atmosphere became quite stifling at times with personalities breaking out. The Frank family with Matt Scantlebury as father Otto, an organised and sympathetic leader of the enterprise forced by the call-up of clever older daughter Margot (Victoria Stowell), and the marital and family difficulties and relationships between him and his wife Edith (Janet Hignett), plus coping with Margot and Anne. The addition of the Van Daan family and the bickering, and selfishness, of the parents played by Martin Rodwell and Philippa Baillie, well drawn and balanced in relationships between each other and with the Franks. The inter-relationships of Peter Van Daan (Zachary Green) with his parents, with the other adults, with Margot and especially the development of friendship with Anne. The introduction of the dentist Mr Dussel (Richard Delahaye) as yet another occupant in the cramped space, the problems of sharing the room and the arguments all adding to the atmosphere. But in spite of all the tensions and worries and clashing personalities, there were moments of lightness and the odd laughter to break the mood and change the air.
And the star of this very intense and moving play has to be 15 year-old Olivia Taylor in the title role: she looked the part, we watched her grow up in front of us as she coped with relationships and changes, adored her father and sparked with her mother, and hoped for feelings from Peter; what a portrayal and how the thoughts and moods were reflected across her face as she wrote in her diary, changed from child through to adolescent, a performance to relish and congratulate.
One should not forget the two helpers in the warehouse who kept the food and news and safety on course: Miep (Alice Rotchell) and Mr Kraler (Carl Denis), from outside.
Kirk had done a huge amount of research into this play, had included a link-up with the Anne Frank Trust, and certainly it all paid off with the final result (as did the Summer School Bursary, very worth-while). The atmosphere in the theatre was intense and the audience could hardly bear to watch knowing the outcome. I do not know how cast and audience coped with those final slides of the concentration camps and the facts as related by Otto Frank, very moving.
And most interesting programme notes and background, this was a play filled with respect to mark the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.