Sunday, 20 May 2012

Review of the Diary of Anne Frank play Bath 2012

I went to see the Diary of Anne Frank at the Bath Theatre Royal on the 19th May 2012. I've wanted to see this play since I was 9 years old and I'm now 20. That's over 1/2 my life that I have wanted to see this play. I've read numerous books about Anne Frank and the Holocaust but my knowledge is still pretty limited when it comes to some aspects of the Holocaust. I have an ambition to go to Auschwitz by the time I am 25 and maybe Bergen Belsen as well.
Back to the play: The set was pretty sparse with most of the set being on castors that could be moved around. There were two beds, a table and chairs and then a small kitchen set that didn't move. Bath Theatre Royal is a proscenium arch theatre which in this aspect was good. Most of the cast were on stage all the time just not in the light. The only characters that were off stage were Meip and Mr Kugler even the German officer was on stage sat in neutral. I was sat on stage right and from my seat I saw that there was a bicycle and a bookcase that hung from the ceiling of the stage. The bicycle and the bookcase have many connotations. The bicycle meant that they were told that they had to give up their bicycles due to the laws imposed on the Jews in the Netherlands. Margot disregarded this rule and along with Meip rode her bicycle to the hiding place. The bookcase was what hid the door to the hiding place.
There were also pictures of movie stars and the British Royal Family hung from the ceiling which it is known that Anne herself plastered on to the walls of her bedroom in the annexe. It's interesting to think that some of the people she put on the wall are still alive today. The set was simple and yet effective as the production is a travelling production. It started at the York Theatre Royal and has been around the country. I wanted to see it in Birmingham but I couldn't get tickets.
To set the scene they used a rain machine which was effective to give the illusion of the rainy morning which sheltered the Franks from the Gestapo. It would have been nice to see the actors walking through it or behind it and Margot and Meip cycling across the stage as Margot arrived into the annexe before the rest of the family instead they all arrived together. There was no sense of time shifting either. It was two weeks to a month between the Van Pels/Van Dann's joining them in the hiding place and even longer till Fritz Pfeffer/Albert Dussel joined them. After the interval there was a little notification of time passing as the entire play covers hust over two years the exact time that Anne was in hiding herself.
There were some good scenes between the Van Dann's and Otto and Anne. To go from complete freedom to no freedom at all must have been hard seeing the same people over and over again each day with no hope  of the war ending. They captured this very well.
Just before the end the German officer who had been sat at the side of the stage got up and lit a cigarette giving the audience notice that something was going to happen. The arrest was well done. Anne ran for her diary but the officer threw it out of her hands then paper came down much like what it is said that happened. They then left the stage and after a few seconds Otto came back on stage and told the audience what happened to all of the residents of the secret annexe.
I would have liked to have seen Meip return on stage and collect up the pieces of paper and the diary then symbolically give it to Otto much as she did in real life.
The acting was good especially that of the actress playing Anne even though she did get on my nerves a little
It was a good production and would see it again.