I think it may be an unfortunate human response to uncomfortable things when we start making jokes about them. We try to be light hearted about tragic events, mainly due to how dark and deep their murky waters can become in terms of subject matter. It is tempting to try this, grabbing the low hanging pun and framing an “Anne Frankly” bit somewhere. But I’d rather discuss the darkness of it all, and how a show at the Paramount did very well for a 2 hour abridged rendition of the famous Diary.
I must admit, plays and similar productions are not in my expertise. In fact, to my current recollection, this is my first attendance to one of a professional caliber. However, I feel I don’t need to set the stage of what this play’s story entails. Besides being a cute choice of words, we all are, for the most part, familiar with Anne Frank’s tale of hiding and her eventual end. What we are here for is an adaptation of the famous diary and this production delivered.
Upon the lights dimming and finding my seat in the balcony, we were introduced to the cast. The families of the Franks and the Daans come on stage, as well as Miep and Mr. Kraler. The casting for this production was very well done, as all of the actors played their parts very well and fit their roles in demeanor and appearance. Randy Warzecha, who filled the role as Otto Frank, should be commended for how well his acting portrays his character calmly trying his damnedest to keep these two families from going insane hiding from the Third Reich. Randy and Patricia Soltis, who played Mr. and Mrs. Van Daan, should also be commended for a perfect portrayal of argumentative, narcissistic parents slowly losing their will. Of course, this production would be meaningless without the titular Anne Frank, played by Ahnika Lexvold. Her portrayal of Anne’s role as both the linchpin and irritant of the two families was very realistic and believable. Only Peter Van Daan, played by Alex Metteer, felt minorly out of place. The way he portrayed being shy was to have little to no emotion in his spoken lines. It almost felt monotone at times.
The other work on this production was well executed as well. Anne’s nightmare sequences were very fitting for the material, and by that I mean they were very off-putting and terrifying. One thing I feel I must directly note is the intermission and what the cast did in the meantime. I was under the impression that during the intermission the cast would go off stage and have a small break before going back on. Instead, we saw the cast acting out basically a day in this life, including playing cards, dressing up, chores, etc. It was a very nice and unexpected touch. Here we have this terrified family desperately trying to pass the time, and then you look at the crowd, and they all have their phones out, doing whatever. At the very least, it was an amusing contrast.
Another thing I was also unaware of was shows like this having liquor for sale. I returned upstairs with my drinks, and the show continued shortly after. Anne and Peter’s Romance was beginning to blossom, and spirits were looking up upon news of the invasion of Normandy. Then an abrupt ending barges through the door, in a very familiar uniform, and the stage is covered in ghostly flames. At this point, the diary’s events end, as the cast reassembles on stage, devoid of any and all humanity in their actions. The light shines upon Otto, who is standing in Anne’s room.
Otto sets the mental stage for us to picture, of their train ride to the camps. He then tells the story of the end of everyone else. One by one, the lights shined on everyone individually, going out when they met their end in his words. And then he reached Anne’s end. She comes into the light upon her name being mentioned, and upon her ‘death’ being told, she slowly gives her diary to her father, the only survivor. She then walks out of the light. I had finished my drinks some time before the Gestapo entered their hideout, but when Anne left into the darkness, I felt more sober than when I had first entered the Paramount. Bloody hell…