Anne Frank play sends audience on trip in time

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Otto Frank (Ben Newman) attempts to calm an angry Mrs. van Daan (Devyn Plisik). The van Daans were another Jewish family that hid in the same secret annex as the Franks.

Anne Frank (Sarah Glugatch) playfully tugs at Peter Van Daan's (Hayden Tessman) shoes, trying to get him to play with her. Anne Frank was a young Jewish girl who eluded Nazi capture for several years and wrote a diary of her time in hiding. Photos by Mauricio Vargas

by Shalaka Gole, staff writer

A shiver passes through the somber audience, as it listened to a Holocaust survivor talk about the deaths of his family and close friends, while a haunting Jewish prayer was sung in the background. This was in sharp contrast to the chuckling that filled the theater just minutes before, at the quips of an angry dentist.

In “The Diary of Anne Frank,” Cal High’s first theater production of the year, the cast delivered a perfectly balanced version of a very serious work. With equal parts that were comfortably lighthearted yet sorrowful and moving, the performance made this particular subject accessible to both high school students, and their parents.

The play followed the story of Anne Frank, the well-known young Jewish girl that lived during World War II as she hid from the Nazis in a secret annex. She shared this cramped space with eight people and her only source of solace was her diary, to which she poured out all her feelings that must be suppressed.

The diary follows Anne’s life for a year, and watches her as she grows and matures, forming relationships with all of her flatmates. Anne’s story ended abruptly, as the annex was discovered, and all the occupants were carted off to separate concentration camps.

Years later, her father, Otto, comes back as a free man to the annex, and upon discovering Anne’s diary, decides to publish it, as a reminder to all of the many different horrors that were produced by Hitler’s genocide.

The young cast did an admirable job of portraying characters that were an era old in mind and body. Sophomore Sarah Glugatch brought Anne to life, with a bubbly personality that was optimistic at all times. Her parents, portrayed by junior Ben Newman, and senior Marissa Dadiw, were played with maturity and presence well beyond the actors’ years.

The characters of the Van Daan family, with whom the Franks share their annex, were portrayed very honestly, with fear hidden behind a facade of familiar domestic bickering. The rest of the cast was equally excellent, and each added their personal flavor to the play.

The set of “Anne Frank” was skillfully designed, and created diversity in a single setting that lasted the length of the play. The direction created enough motion that the single set was not monotonous, and made the audience believe in the passing of many months. Costumes were plain, yet very believable, and added a feel of the era to the scenes. The production was almost entirely smooth, aside from slight abruptness in the sound effects, and a couple of stammers from the actors, that slightly took away from the play’s fluidity.

All in all, the play was a very professionally carried production, with interesting portrayals, and touching moments. This play’s well known topic made it accessible to all, and made for an enjoyable evening.