THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK as adapted by Goodrickh and Hackett is a timeless story of a young girl’s struggle to live, hope and love despite the dire circumstances in which she and her family find themselves. This Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winning production put on by Castle Hill Players is both tragic and suspenseful, heart-warming and even humorous at times. Director Faith Jessel and the cast do an excellent job of maintaining the tensions among the characters throughout the production. Most of us know how the story ends yet we find ourselves living the lives of characters, wondering how we would survive and hoping somehow it will end differently – liberation was, oh, so close.
Genevieve Papadopoulos gives a vivacious and touching performance as the high spirited, very articulate Anne. We see her grow and change and there is a most sobering moment at the end when she says directly to the audience that she believes in the fundamental goodness of human nature.
Dave Kirkham is her devoted and gentle father Otto who portrays great fortitude and patience keeping the family together through their many trials and struggles living together for over 2 years in a cramped attic. Anne has a closer relationship with her father than her tense and protective mother Edith, played by Judy Jankovics, as the two struggle to understand each other.
David Schad plays the flawed character of Otto’s business partner, Mr Van Daan. He, and his at times selfish wife, played by Kim Schad, along with their son Peter, played by Yarno Rohling are generously given refuge in the attic. There is often stress between the two families as personal needs almost overtake the common good. There is however, also a delightfully contrasting scene between Anne and Peter when Anne decides it is time to be kissed by a boy.
David Hill plays Mr Dussell, the family dentist who seeks refuge with them in hiding. He is a difficult man used to his own space and there are some strong exchanges between he and Anne as they share living quarters.
Nick Hoschke and Christina Ulich play Mr Kraler and Miep Gies, two of Otto’s previous work colleagues who live ‘outside’ and provide essential food and connect the families with news of the war. Theirs is a very brave story as they risk death hiding the families.
Brittany Macchetta plays Anne’s more reserved, calmer sister, Margot and though never really explained, there is not a close bond between the sisters.
Steve Winner’s set crammed with all the families need to survive most effectively portrays the difficulties and lack of privacy of the living arrangements. Costumes, lighting, sound and projections heighten the reality and atmosphere of the terrible situation in Nazi occupied Amsterdam.
In this remarkable true story we discover hope and courage during a time of horror and terrible cruelty. This story asks each of us to reflect on the value of human life and the choices we make. Recommended viewing, playing at the Pavilion Theatre, Castle Hill Showground till 12 October 2019.