Anne Frank races on stage, jumping gleefully, a distinct contrast to the morose faces that surround her. A typical 13-year-old, she does not understand what is happening to her as she closes the door to her new home behind her for the first, and penultimate, time.
We follow eight people as they go through the day-to-day trials of living in a cramped space, with little food and contact with the outside world. Anne, her sister Margot, her parents, the three van Daans, and, later, Mr. Drummle, are all living together in five tiny rooms. The cramped feeling they must have experienced is expertly shown on the stage. The set looks thrown together, mismatched pieces turned into a makeshift home. None of these eight characters go offstage between their entrance and the very end; everything, including costume changes (nothing inappropriate, I swear) is accomplished onstage.
Their life is beautifully contrasted with that of people on the outside, such as Miep, who helps them by delivering food and other necessities. She is well-dressed and always looks put together, while those living in the attic seem to degenerate over the course of the two hours.
At the end of Act One, the majority of the audience stayed in their seats, mulling over what they had been watching. I have seen many shows at Driftwood, and the lobby at intermission is usually full of laughter and people greeting old friends. Today it was nearly silent.
This is not to suggest that the play is depressing. Rather, it leaves a message of hope in the hardest of situations. During one of the toughest moments of the play, Mr. Frank gathers the group together and says, “we have spent to years living in fear. Now, we live in hope.” There are even some downright funny moments, and others in which you are shocked by exactly how human the characters are. The only character that seemed flat was Margot, who is almost too perfect. However, as we are seeing this through Anne’s eyes, and she thinks Margot is the older sister who does no wrong, this is fitting.
If you are looking for a light piece of entertainment that will leave you laughing and smiling as you leave the theatre, you are not looking for this play. Anne Frank is a piece of art, well directed, acted, and produced, that offers a glimpse into a piece of WWII history that we don’t hear about often; the story of those left in hiding.
In the house, they cannot move their legs or even talk above a whisper, especially during daylight hours. Even at night, the space is so cramped it is impossible to run and jump. Only small slivers of the sky are visible, for they cannot draw the curtains. This would be difficult for anyone, for a rambunctious 13-year-old it is torture.
Returning home during the end of the play, Otto Frank tells Miep that Anne was happy at the concentration camp, because there she could spend time in the sunshine and the outdoors she missed so badly. Imagining a world in which a concentration camp is an improvement begins to suggest just how hard Anne’s life was in the attic.
The Diary of Anne Frank
October 19 – 28
More info and show times: http://www.driftwoodplayers.org/
Driftwood Players’ Ticket Office: 425-774-9600
Ticket Office Hours: Open for phone calls 10 – 6 Tuesday – Saturday. Ticket office at the theatre opens one hour prior to show time.
The Driftwood Players are located at 950 Main Street in Edmonds. It is served by Community Transit routes 110, 131, 404, 416, and 870. For bus times: tripplanner.metrokc.gov