The Diary of Anne Frank
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The Diary of Anne Frank

Anne Frank began writing her diary at the age of 13-years-old and continued writing it throughout the two years she and her family hid from the Nazis in the annexe behind and above her father's business in Amsterdam.The last entry was written on the day they were captured.To see the story taken from her diary acted out on stage is a moving experience as you are watching real people,not fictional characters.

Wendy Kesselman has adapted Francis Goodrich and Albert Hackett's play The Diary of Anne Frank which is currently on tour in the UK.This adaptation includes material that had originally been censored by Otto Frank and marks the 60th anniversary of Anne Frank's diary publication in English.

Nikolai Foster directs the Touring Consortium Theatre Company's production and from the moment the curtain goes up you feel the claustrophobic atmopsphere in the annexe in Amsterdam where two families hid from the Nazis for two years.In 1933 the Nazis began their persecution of Jews and the 35-year-old German Jewish banker Otto Frank decided to move his family from Frankfurt in Germany to Amsterdam in Holland.

Once there he opened a business and lived with his wife Edith and daughters Edith and Anne in relative peace until World War II broke out.When Germany invaded Holland in May 1940 Otto Frank tried to obtain visas for his family to escape the country but when that failed his friends and colleagues at his business helped them move into a disused annexe behind and above his business.

They shared the secret annexe for over two years with the van Pels family,the husband Hermann was one of Otto's colleagues.They  had very little space,one main room where they spent the day in silence in case they were heard by the workmen downstairs,they couldn't even go to the toilet until after 6pm, bedrooms where they doubled up and an attic.

The action of the play takes place in this main room and the dark set adds to the claustrophobic atmosphere.Christopher Timothy,well known to UK TV viewers for his role as vet James Herriot in All Creatures Great and Small is very good as Otto Frank and a young British actress Amy Dawson who made her West End debut in 2011 in The Childrens Hour is excellent as the young Anne Frank.

She started her diary when she was 13-years-old and continued writing it until her last entry dated 1st August 1944.Later that morning SS Sergeant Karl Josef Silberbauer arrived at the annexe and all the occupants were arrested.Someone had betrayed them but they never discovered who it was.

The Frank and van Pels families were taken to an Amsterdam prison,then transferred to Westgerbork from where they were deported to Auschwitz in Poland and the men and women were forcibly separated.Herman van Pels was killed at Auschwitz and his wife was sent to Belsen then to another concentration camp.

Peter van Pels,Anne's love interest,died on a death march after being forcibly evacuated from Auschwitz three days before the camp was liberated.Anne's mother died in Auschwitz in January 1945 from hunger and exhaustion.Anne and her sister Margot were sent to Belsen in October 1944 and died of typhoid there,Anne was 15-years-old.

The only survivor of the annexe was Otto Frank who passed on Anne's diary to the world.Seeing these real people depicted on stage by such a talented cast made it all the more real and you realise what these families must have gone through.Cut off from their friends they never saw daylight,never got any fresh air.If you get a chance to see a dramatised version of The Diary of Anne Frank you will see history come to life.

The Annexe where the family hid is now a museum in Amsterdam is now a museum open to visitors.Details on the Museum website.

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Comments (3)

Amanda, this was an excellent review of both the book and the movie. The Diary of Anne Frank wasn't my usual choice of reading material nor was it the type of movie that I usually went to see but my sister in-law asked me to read the book and watch the movie with her. Much to my surprise, I actually enjoyed both. I think that I still have both, the book and the movie on VHS somewhere around here.

Ranked #24 in Books & Authors

Thanks Jerry but it wasn't actually a movie It is a new stage play to commemorate 60 years anniversary of the publication of Anne's diary in English.

I do theatre reviews for my local paper and saw it in Eastbourne last night.It was so well done I thought I would share it.Obviously this is a new article because the review had to be more about the play,cast and direction.

If you ever get a chance to see it on stage do so because it is wonderfully claustrophobic.

Ranked #9 in Books & Authors

I have read the book several times and it is one of the great ones I read. The diary is really more about Anne's growth as a lady trapped in an oppressive and secret world.