Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

October 23, 2019

REVIEW: Silverthorne Theater, The Diary of Anne Frank

Hawks & Reed Arts Center, Greenfield, MA
through October 26, 2019
by Shera Cohen

It might seem odd to think of the drama, “The Diary of Anne Frank” as joyful, uplifting, and beautiful. The antithesis immediately comes to mind; i.e. sad, horror, and ugliness in a world that permitted (and oftentimes still permits) humanity to become inhumane.

The play depicts one extended family in the center of WWII, literally in the middle of the war’s timeline in 1944 in The Netherlands, at the midpoint of Europe’s west coast. The Franks represent a small group of familiar Jews, multiplied thousands of times to equal the millions of Jews and others deemed unsuitable to Nazi Germany as members of the human race. However, “Anne Frank” is far more than a prototype of thousands of personal stories that have and could have been written. Anne Frank’s account is true, as are the people who live with her in a small attic hide away. The real Anne is the star of her own play, as so much of the script is attained from her diary; profound and serious at times, light and juvenile at other moments.

The producers and/or director have picked an exemplary troupe of 10 actors, eight of who are crowded into four rooms on a proscenium stage, as if sliced in half for the audience’s view. John Iverson’s set components are as important as any one of the actors. Dark and dreary, cramped and claustrophobic, Iverson has designed a replica of the actual site in 1944.

Samantha (Sammi) Choquette shines, even in the dramatic and bleak moments. At the same time, she portrays a typical young teenager who longs for fun and boys. Choquette creates a balance of coquettish schoolgirl with a young woman who must grow up too fast due to her circumstances. Choquette is pure joy to watch.

The leader of the family, in all ways secular and religious, is Otto Frank. Frank Aronson gives Otto a soft and tempered exterior. At the same time, the audience can envision the wheels ever spinning in Otto’s head, as the burden of every moment of every day falls on him. Seemingly, without trying, Aronson represents a wise and extremely caring father, husband, and friend.

Director Keith Langsdale moves the many characters around the multi-room set. In spite of the lack of doors from one room to another, it is always clear where his characters are going and why.

Plays performed at Silverthorne Theater are worth seeking out.