Archikulture Digest

The Diary of Anne Frank

The Diary of Anne Frank

By Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett

Newly Adapted by Wendy Kessleman

Directed Stephen J. Halpin

Starring Julie Gottfried, Mark Davids and Clark Levi

Baggy Pants Theater

Presented at The Orlando Shakespeare Center, Orlando, FL</strong>

Cramped space, Nazi persecution, and everyone dies at the end – this can make even the perennially cheerful Russel Trahan cranky. As the Nazi’s rose to power, the well to do Jewish merchants fled but not far enough. Amsterdam looked good until the Nazi’s rolled in and by then it was too late. The Frank family had some money but no sense of time; thus they ended up hiding in a cramped room over a factory with the Van Daan’s. Friends (Leah Schult and Joshua Holt) bring them supplies, but after nearly two years hope dwindles. Not even the blooming romance between Anna and Peter (Levi) cheers things up. No one expects the Normandy Invasion, but it was too late: these families went to the camps dying just as the allies rolled up. Only father Otto (Davids) survived.

As always, this is a heart rending story. Davids’ Otto always remains calm, always remains practical and sometimes seems almost too perfect. Anna (Gottfried), too, is a perennial Pollyanna; seeing the whole “Living in a dark whole starving and fearing discovery” a big adventure. But that’s what it takes to survive; a sort of inverse pioneering spirit. More realistic were Trahan’s Mr. Van Daan and his fussy wife (Christina Disla). They felt a real couple married too long and reduced to fighting to keep alive whatever ash of a marriage remains. Moping around on the periphery are the sad but loving Mrs. Edith Frank (Anne-Marie Ferraro) and the quiet and sometimes ill Margot (Lauren Barton). This pair looked the most beaten down; they did the chores maintaining a house where seven people shared one toilet that couldn’t be flushed.

I had misremembered somewhere the entire family had died and the source material was found accidently in an attic. But this new version adds an epilog; father Otto survived Auschwitz and while all the others died their dates and locations are mostly known. Not that that changes much; this remains the definitive Surviving the Nazis story. Here it’s displayed with tact and a solid cast but damn, it IS depressing.

For times, tickets and more information please visit http://baggypantstheater.com/


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