Presented by Adelaide Repertory Theatre
Reviewed 6 Apr 2017
Despite not having seen this play before, or read the script, I did know the story and as such had certain expectations. I’m not sure this production met them. The play by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett is a long piece and in places lacks pace.
Ole Weibkin has again surpassed himself with this set: it creates the atmosphere and, coupled with Richard Parkhill’s lighting, it is extremely effective. The many layers of the set with its hidden bits and its dusty, make-do feel give us a chance to imagine the claustrophobic feel that their hiding place must have had. The use of videos of Anne with actual excerpts from the diary is well used and helps to keep the flow.
Director Geoff Brittain has cast well and the choice of Henny Walters, as Anne was the key to this working. Her understanding of the character of Anne and the development she shows tells us she is destined to do more. All of the ladies do well, Nicole Rutty gives her usual solid performance as Anne’s mother, Edith, and Therese Hornby is irritating and self important, the perfect Mrs Van Daan. Margot, Anne’s older sister, is played by Genevieve Venning with restraint and empathy. As the ‘guardian angel’ Miep Gies, Esther Michelson is convincing.
Tim Williams is Otto Frank, Anne’s father, maintaining good characterisation throughout, although he is a little quiet at times. As Mr Van Daan, who finds living without certain comforts difficult, Tim Taylor handles the changes in his character well. Ronan Banks captures the angst of the adolescent well and develops throughout the play. Chris Leech provides much irritation for the other characters as Mr Dussell (the dentist) who joins them late and stretches their meagre supplies. As Mr Kraler, the man who has provided for this sanctuary and with Miep brings supplies and news, Stuart Pearce is stoic and reserved.
I really feel that in some places the production lacked the tension and fear that should have been present, but there were many good things too. Although I have misgivings for this production, it is a worthwhile piece that deserves better audiences than it had on opening night. It carries an important message of hope and survival and should be a must for students.
Reviewed by Fran Edwards
Venue: Arts Theatre
Season: 19– 22 Apr 2017
Duration: 2hr 30min
Tickets: $17 – $22