The Diary of Anne Frank by Abington Friends School in Jenkintown, PA
April 24, 2018
Review submitted by Allegra Greenawalt of Harriton High School
Through the eyes of a child, a glimmer of light can be found even in the darkest of places. In their riveting production of The Diary of Anne Frank, Abington Friends School explored both the difficulties and unexpected joys found in times of trauma.
Adapted from The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank, this play tells the true story of Frank’s family and their attempted escape from German occupation of Amsterdam during World War II. Living in a secret annex with another Jewish family, the Franks must remain silent in order to avoid discovery by the Nazis.
With its many mature themes and messages, this play poses a challenge that is no easy feat to conquer in a high school. However, Abington Friends School certainly rose to the occasion and did the show immeasurable justice.
Kaiya Case lead the performance with a gripping portrayal of Anne Frank. Her youthful energy and enthusiasm allowed her to easily embody the historic child figure, while showing emotional range embracing the frustration and difficulties of her situation. Her courageous father, Mr. Frank, was laudably portrayed by Jack Sutherland, captivating the audience with his outstanding stage presence and mature demeanor. He shared a great chemistry with Case, as well as both Halle Jacobson (Mrs. Frank) and Emma Cameron (Margot Frank).
Living alongside the Frank family were the trio of Van Daans. As Mr. Van Daan, Michael Carpenter brought a combination of bold acting choices and dry comedy to the stage, adding an eminent depth to his already complex character. Naandi Jamison (Mrs. Van Daan) proved to be a caring mother to her teenage son Peter (Zachary Ford), and wonderfully contrasted her husband with an outgoing sass and sharp tongue. Also notable was Drew Jacobson (Mr. Dussell), whose lovable awkwardness and perfect comedic timing added some more tasteful humor to the production while still keeping true to the story and struggles of the time.
Technically, the show was superb. With authentic food, a plethora of suitcases, and even a real live feline onstage, prop masters Seri Fleming and Kat Odoms designed and obtained a vast array of props that proved them more than capable of handling their large responsibility. Benjamin Goldstone also did a fantastic job with the lighting of the show, using cool blues and vibrant reds to add to the suspense of certain scenes. While occasionally an actor was briefly out of light, it did not distract from the overall quality of the production.
In a world where discrimination and injustice are still prominent issues worldwide, Abington Friends School’s production of The Diary of Anne Frank reminds us that no matter our beliefs, gender, race, shape, or size, we are all human.
Review submitted by Julia Jennings of Upper Moreland High School
Perhaps the most heart-wrenching stories in all of human history are those of the oppression and hatred inflicted by any one group of people against another. Abington Friends School’s production of The Diary of Anne Frank brought to life one such story, and yet more importantly it brought into focus the love and joy that acted as a shining light throughout these times of atrocity, warming the hearts of all in attendance.
The Diary of Anne Frank chronicles two pivotal years in the life of a young girl as she and her family must go into hiding in the cramped annex of an office building during the Holocaust. Although the story ends in tragedy, it shows the incredible and invincible joy and strength of the people who struggled against the impossible oppression of the time.
Abington Friends School brought this powerful story to life with incredible authenticity. The extraordinary cast seemed to live the story, remaining constantly onstage, in character, going about their daily lives regardless of whether or not they had dialogue in a scene, and even during the entire length of the intermission. Hebrew songs and prayers were delivered throughout the performance, and pictures of the real Frank family were occasionally displayed on a screen reminding the audience of the real people who were forced to suffer the horrible injustice inflicted upon them.
Leading this amazing cast was Kaiya Case as the remarkable Anne Frank. Case captivated the audience, seeming to perfectly capture the irrepressible spirit and strength of the young girl whose words have been immortalized in the diary. As Otto Frank, her father, Jack Sutherland brought dignity and maturity to the performance. Sutherland’s final monologue had an earnest authenticity that moved the audience to tears. Emma Cameron brought to life Anne’s reserved sister, Margot Frank, with a quiet, gentle manner of grace despite the impossible circumstances.
As Mr. Van Daan, Michael Carpenter showed an amazing depth of painful emotion and anger, which contrasted well with the flamboyant and enthusiastic nature of his wife, portrayed by Naandi Jamison. Drew Jacobson brought the perfect amount of quiet humor to the performance as the somewhat sarcastic dentist, Mr. Dussell. Another surprise highlight of the performance was the live cat who portrayed Mouschi, the Van Daan’s cat.
The sound design of the performance was flawless, creating a perfect balance of voices during dialogue and an air raid so real that it frightened many in the audience. The set was impeccable, perfectly reflecting a simpler time and place with intricate attention to detail, creating three stories of a house. The production included spectacular props such as an old sink, an old-fashioned radio, and several time period lamps and bedspreads. Impressive dramaturgy was put together by Kaitlyn Arms, ensuring that the incredible story came to life with accuracy and true voice.
Abington Friends School’s The Diary of Anne Frank gives the audience a unique and necessary window into one of the worst tragedies in human history. It tells us the story through the eyes of a child who wants to be loved and remembered. Through all of the tragedy and heart-ache, The Diary of Anne Frank reminds us of the joy and light that is within all of us, and the truly invincible nature of the human soul.