Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Philadelphia

The Diary of Anne Frank
People's Light
Review by Rebecca Rendell | Season Schedule

See Rebecca's review of A Steady Rain


Caroline Strang and Brittany Anikka Liu
Photo by Tori Harve
There is never any mystery about how things are going to end for Anne Frank. Before the curtain rises we already know what happens to the Jews of Holland during World War II and the terrible fate that awaits the Frank family. And yet The Diary of Anne Frank, currently running at People's Light in Malvern, is as suspenseful and heartrending as any modern drama. Making the most of Wendy Kesselman's updated adaptation, the strong ensemble breathes life into characters so authentic we cannot help but be moved by their struggles, dreams and heartbreaks. The pace of director David Bradley's straightforward production sometimes lags a bit, but that does not diminish the power of this stirring play.

When we first meet Anne, her sister Margot, and their parents Edith and Otto, they are going into hiding. Hoping to survive the increasingly oppressive Nazi occupation they leave everything behind to shelter in a small annex in back of Otto's old office building. It is a modest space they share with another Jewish family and one displaced dentist. The practical realities of living with so many restrictions and under such a dire threat are staggering, but Anne manages to find purpose and hope in her writing. Through her journal she tells us the story of her own struggle and sheds light on what all the Jews of Europe experienced during World War II.

Brittany Anikka Liu is excellent as young Anne, boisterously optimistic but deeply frustrated. Deborah Green exudes a quiet desperation that is both heartbreaking and a perfect foil to Liu's performance. Christopher Patrick Mullen is excellent as meek and exasperated Mr. Dussel. Melanye Finister is slightly awkward as Mrs. van Daan.

The set and lighting for this production are as vital to the play as any character, and Luke Cantarella and Dennis Parichy get it just right. The space the designers create is appropriately claustrophobic without being distracting. Fabian Obispo's sound design and original music also contribute to ominous tone of the production.

People's Light recommends the show for kids 11 years old and up, but I would go a few years younger for someone who is mature and already learning about the Holocaust. It is amazing how the story of one bright girl can resonate more than all the horrifying facts and figures in a history book.

The Diary of Anne Frank, through March 31st, 2018, on the Leonard C. Haas Stage at People's Light, 39 Conestoga Road, Malvern PA. For tickets and information, call the box office at 610-644-3500 or visit www.peopleslight.org.

Cast:
Anne Frank: Brittany Anikka Liu*
Otto Frank: Mark David Kaplan*
Edith Frank: Deborah Green*
Margot Frank: Caroline Strang*
Miep Gies: Danielle Leneé*
Peter van Daan: Tyler S. Elliott
Mr. Kraler: John Zak*
Mrs. van Daan: Melanye Finister*
Mr. van Daan: Brian Anthony Wilson*
Mr. Dussel: Christopher Patrick Mullen*
First Man: Pete Pryor*
Second Man: Jeff Gorcyca
Third Man: Jacob Schrimpf

Crew:
Director: David Bradley
Set Designer: Luke Cantarella
Costume Designer: Devon Painter
Lighting Designer: Dennis Parichy
Sound Designer: Fabian Obispo
Stage Manager: Kate McSorley Fossner*
Dramaturg Alix: Rosenfeld
Line Producer: Zak Berkman


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