14 Mar A captivating portrayal of the story of Anne Frank

The Wednesday night opening performance of The Diary of Anne Frank last week was packed, and rightly so. The audience that squeezed into a full house in Nayland College’s Performing Arts Centre was rewarded with a mesmerising performance by senior drama students, directed by Anton Bentley.

The play took the audience into a world where personalities were thrown into stark relief by the constant fear of being caught and the ordeal of cramped living conditions. The use of subtle lighting created an atmosphere of oppression, lifted by the occasional spotlight on the dreams and aspirations of Anne Frank.

The cast’s main players were on set and in character throughout, including during intermission. Each member ably articulated their own story through incidental actions such as practising card tricks, sobbing silently in the corner or fussing over a beloved object. These formed a backdrop of frail humanity onto which the spark of Anne’s naivety was able to shine.

Personal standouts were Mia Faulkner as Anne Frank, Ben Dodds playing her father Otto, and Harry Stocker as Mr Van Daan. Mia brought an incredible sense of energy and jubilance to her role, while Ben exuded nobility and Harry channeled his character’s corrupt nature.

The performance was aided by a cleverly designed and well-used multi-level set to depict the families’ extremely close living quarters while in hiding. Incredible attention to historical detail was shown in the costuming which featured buttoned braces, authentic Nazi-style jodhpurs and boots, Luger gun replicas, and pumps reminiscent of the 1940s on the women’s feet.

Details such as these lent the production an authenticity and are indicative of the care and respect accorded to the story by the cast and director. The incorporation of documentary film and sound snippets gave a sense of the terrible realities of Anne Frank’s story, a story which remains timeless and relevant in today’s politically unstable world.

By actor and director Bashan King