The Diary of Anne Frank: review | Toronto Star

Posted By on May 31, 2015

By Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett. Adapted by Wendy Kesselman. Directed by Jillian Keiley. Until Oct. 10 at the Avon Theatre. 1-800-567-1600

STRATFORDHow can one of the most powerful stories of our time, acted by a superb cast, wind up as a less than satisfying theatrical experience?

Ask Jillian Keiley, because it was her direction that turned Thursday nights premiere of The Diary of Anne Frank into such a mishmash.

My heart sank as soon as I saw Bretta Gereckes set, a large, looming box made out of wooden slats. It looked nothing like the cramped garret where eight hunted Jews hid out from the marauding Nazis in the Amsterdam of the 1940s.

It didnt take a major act of clairvoyance to see that it would probably be transformed in the plays final minutes into the lethal boxcars that took people to the death camps, but why destroy any sense of realism or mood for the two hours before that?

My heart continued plummeting when the entire cast came out and addressed us all with personal anecdotes that tried to tangentially connect them to the world of the show and then vanished upstage to become part of a wordless a cappella chorus that crooned Jonathan Monros sentimental music for far too much of the show.

If there ever was a story that needed no adornment, no sentiment and no fixing of any kind, its that of Anne Frank, the precocious young woman who kept a diary chronicling the brave struggle of her family and other companions in that attic in solitude for several years.

As originally dramatized by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett, then later amplified by Wendy Kesselman, its a work of great power that cant help but wring the heart . . . unless its meddled with.

Even in this production, there were some long, extended scenes, like the touching Chanukah celebration that ends Act I, when the script and the actors were allowed to work their magic.

And what actors! Sara Farb continues her winning streak of Stratford performances with an Anne who is honest and feisty and totally real, someone we love because of her faults, not despite them.

Originally posted here:
The Diary of Anne Frank: review | Toronto Star

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