Love, Hate and Tough Times

The Diary of Anne Frank at Gladstone Theatre

Tuesday, April 15

by Aliza Itskovich (Age 14)


You enter into a dimly lit room. Jazz music is softly playing outside. This is where Anne Frank spent the last 2 years of her life. Frank was thirteen during the Holocaust when she was forced to go into hiding with her family. The conditions weren’t favourable but at least they had running water and a place to sleep. The Frank family wasn’t hiding alone, they were sharing their attic space with the Van Danns and later Mr. Dussel, a lonely dentist, comes to join them. In total this was 8 people sharing a small living space with minimal food. The Diary of Anne Frank, written by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett, is a story about dealing with adversity through the eyes of a bright young girl.

The secret annex on stage is amazing. Designed by Annemarie Zeyl, it has different levels, rooms, windows and doors. It is very appealing to look at and has lots of detail. I was amazed at how much work it must have been to keep track of all the decorations and props and yet nothing seemed to be missing. Since the annex was the only setting in the play the actors can not leave the stage but the transitions between scenes still keep the audience engaged. During every scene change a recording of Anne’s voice reads from her diary and a picture of the page she iss reading from is projected on a screen that unrolls and rolls back up again. Through these transitions we get an introduction to the scene that iss about to unfold in front of us. While the audience listens, the actors do their costume changes quietly and quickly, never drawing attention to themselves, and we barely notice that they are there.

The director, Tim Picotte, does a great job with the staging. The stage is always balanced but feels cramped at the same time. You are always aware of how small the secret annex is but there are never too many people stuck together in a specific area. The actors do a great job delivering the emotions and the audience reacts appropriately. Vanessa Cook(Mrs. Van Daan) is great at exaggerating her character. She puts in just enough cheeriness and sorrow and I lightheartedly laughed at all of her jokes. As for the title role, Marie-Pier Jean gives her life. She wasn’t just words on a paper or a picture in the history books, I truly believed Anne Frank was in front of me. All the aspects of the show came together quite nicely, the costumes, designed by Zhanna Parashchuck, don’t feel out of place and the lighting, by Barry Sims, compliments the scenery. The show does a good job of portraying the struggles of one family during the years of the Holocaust.

Simply put, The Diary of Anne Frank blew me off my feet. I couldn’t have expected anything better.