It is a story well-known to millions, made all the more poignant and absorbing for its absolute authenticity. Young Anne Frank (whose name is pleasingly pronounced here with regard for its German rather than British origin) wished “to go on living – even after my death” and thanks to the characterful vibrancy of this adaptation by many of the young Lambrook Theatre Company, the young writer is certainly imbued with a new lease of life.
Equally adept in portrayals of anger, despondency, excitement and affection
Opening with a slick interchange of lines between the large ensemble, as a means of contextualising the necessity of the Frank family going into hiding (alongside the van Daans), this production wastes no time in honing in on the real drama contained within the pages of Anne’s famous diary. And quite rightly, but overwhelmingly pleasingly nonetheless, it is Anne herself who is the shining light of this production. Played by Piper Lloyd, she brings an immediate energy to proceedings which is unrelenting throughout. Equally adept in portrayals of anger, despondency, excitement and affection, Lloyd conveys in very little time the whole gamut of emotions likely to have been experienced by Anne, confined as she was in such limited space. Her measured and articulate delivery is absolutely convincing, with her presentation of Frank’s real words, addressed directly to the audience, particularly affecting.
Lloyd is more than ably supported by an excellent cast of leading characters, with Emily Bishton notably playing a redoubtable and fearsome Mrs van Daan, whose caricatured tussles with the larger than life Mr Dussel, depicted exaggeratedly by Daniel Foldes, bring a burst of humour to the piece. Mention too must go to Sasha Harley’s portrayal of Anne’s disagreeable mother, Elodie Sinclair’s amenable Margot Frank, Joshua Hogan’s quietly endearing Peter van Daan, and the calm and assured presence of Miep by Amelia Hutton.
Having opened the piece well, the chorus of performers who remain visibly on stage throughout, occasionally representing Nazi guards, would benefit from a little more stage discipline and awareness, as at times focus was pulled away from the main drama. Further, subtler handling of technical elements would aid immersion in the emotional heart of the piece – the performances here are strong enough to convey the desired atmosphere without the bursts of loud music and stark moments of lighting that arise on occasion.
On the whole though, this is a charming adaptation of Anne Frank’s diary, and the closing words of her father, Otto Frank, recounting the fates of the people in the annexe after the period of being in hiding, ensures that it finds its place as just one striking episode in the context of something much larger.