The Diary of Anne Frank at theSpace@Venue45 (Venue 45), a mini opera by Grigori Frid starring Polly Ott as Anne Frank with accompaniment by pianist Stavroula Thoma is a well staged and at times disturbing piece of work that manages to convey a small part of the terror that Anne Frank must have felt as she awaited the inevitable capture of herself and her friends and family.
Polly Ott is outstanding in the role of Anne, and as the sole performer (apart from piano) of this work, gives us not only great vocals as the diary is read out in songs specially written for this work, but a fine acting performance of a young girl who at first sees her “hiding place” as an adventure, then for what it is, a prison from which she might never escape into the wider world again.
Music for this work is at times almost discordant and works well to portray the growing terror that Anne is experiencing. Also interesting is the use of lights that alter in brightness along with Anne’s changing moods. Watch out too for the portraits being placed on the floor.
I don’t know if this is intentional or not, but this show is in an old hall attached to a church and the support pillars running from floor to ceiling could very easily be imagined to be the warehouse attic that everyone is forced to hide in.
The story of Anne Frank and her diary will need no introduction here, so I will skip over that in this review. Some people may ask “does the story need re-told yet again?” The answer to that question of course is yes...we must never let Anne’s voice of the horrors she witnessed be silenced.
Some of the photographs put on the floor are also interesting...reminding us that even now, across the world, young girls are having their lives and education brutally interrupted by events and wars over which they have no control.
Review by Tom King