One Man's Obsession with Anne Frank

By Bob and Karen Isaacs

BOB:    Hi! I’m Bob

KAREN:  And I’m Karen and we go to the theater regularly.

BOB:    And we would like to share with you our thoughts and opinions, which don’t always agree, about area professional theater.

BOB:  We saw a new play, Compulsion, at Yale Rep that was produced in conjunction with New York's Public  Theater and the Berkeley Repertory Theater.

KAREN: This is based on a real person and a real incident. Yale describes the play as "Sid Silver wants nothing more than to bring Anne Frank's story to an American audience, and he believes he's the right man to adapt the young girl's diary for the stage. But his passion spirals into a lifelong obsession when a New York publishing house reveals its own plans for what would become one of the most powerful and enduring documents of the 20th century.

BOB:  The issue really has to do with Meyer Levin who claimed he had the rights to do the adaptation of "The Diary of Anne Frank" for the stage and film. He had a big war -- over 30 years

KAREN: with Random House publishers, various Broadway producers and with Otto Frank himself, who Levin claimed had promised him the rights.
BOB:  Otto Frank was Anne Frank's father. I enjoyed the title of this play, Compulsion, because that was the title of one of Meyer Levin's great books about the Leopold and Loeb murders.

KAREN: This stars Mandy Patinkin as Sid Silver who is the alter ego character Levin sometimes used to represent himself and two other performers -- Hannah Cabell who plays both the editor at Random House and also Silver's wife and Stephen Barker Turner who plays four different roles, several of whom are antagonistic to Silver.

BOB: The rest of the characters --including Anne Frank -- are done with puppets.

KAREN: They also include the ending of the play, The Diary of Anne Frank.

BOB: It's interesting because it is a way to bring in additional information.

KAREN:  I didn't feel the puppets were that necessary.  Mandy Patinkin plays Sid Silver and Mandy has been known to over emote but in this play he kept it under control even though Sid Silver becomes increasingly paranoic.

BOB:  To say the least

KAREN: This is an interesting point because Silver felt that play of "The Diary of Anne Frank" was being removed from its context. The fact that Anne Frank was a Jew, that this was about the Holocaust, was to some extent downplayed to make it more attractive to general audiences. He was adamant that this was not how it should be done.

BOB: He actually did write a play version of the diary but it has only been performed privately.

KAREN: He also apparently won some damages from Otto Frank because a court did find that certain elements of his play ended up in the one that was produced.

BOB: It's an interesting work. It's the type of thing that allows for a lot of speculation.

KAREN: I felt it should be called "Obsession" because it truly becomes obsessed with this work

BOB: and it affected his entire life.

KAREN: And the fact that he feels he is being persecuted and done out of what was rightly his.

BOB: This is at the Yale Rep through February 28.

BOB: Now a quick look at what’s playing or coming up at area professional theatres.
Calendar of events.

BOB:  For more information or reservations, contact the box office at the theater.

KAREN: That’s all for now. Send us your comments and opinions care of WNHU, 300 Orange Ave., West Haven. Until next time, we hope to see you at the theater.

BOB:    The opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of WNHU, its management or the University of New Haven.

This review originally aired on WNHU 88.7 FM and WNHU.NET

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