The Diary of Anne Frank – Review by Tom Nissley

It seems incongruous that one of the most important documents attesting to the horrors of the Holocaust should be the diary of a fourteen-year-old girl stuck in an attic in Amsterdam during the war. If you’ve any doubts about how significant it is they will quickly dissipate during the superb production now running at the Playhouse on Park. Ezra Barnes has directed a well-chosen cast, featuring Isabelle Barbier as the loquacious Anne; Joni Weisfeld as her mother, Edith; Frank Van Putten as her father, Otto Frank; and Ruthy Froch as her sister, Margot. Alex Rafala is Peter Van Daan; Lisa Bostnar is his mother; and Allen Lewis Rickman is Mr. Van Daan, his father. Jonathan D. Mesisca is Mr. Dussel, the dentist. Elizabeth Simmons is Miep Gies, the family’s link to the outside world, and Michael Enright is her colleague, Mr. Kraler.

On a carefully designed set, which fills the available space on the Playhouse stage, David Lewis has created a believable crammed apartment-in-the-attic, with too little space for everyone, but showing every corner referred to in Anne’s writing. Christopher Bell’s lighting and Joel Abbott’s sound design complete the graphics, and Kate Bunce’ costumes are beautifully appropriate.

The whole, tense, experience of the two families sharing angst and despair. Anne, Peter, and Margot trying to be good teen-agers while hating the fighting or depression in their parents – making promises that they will not get the chance to fulfill about how their dreams will keep them positive and productive. And the movements around the set, so beautifully choreographed, presumably by Mr. Barnes, who is an expert director, leave a breathless, satisfied, audience at the close with no option but to keep the memory alive. To never forget the story presented or its importance in our history.

Thank you and congratulations to Playhouse on Park for this great show. Tickets and information at www.playhouseonpark.org or by calling 860-523-5900.

Tom Nissley for the Ridgelea Reports on Theatre. November 2, 2017

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