Regional Reviews: Philadelphia
See Rebecca's review of A Steady Rain
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.