Yesterday, I attended the opening night of the play “The Diary of Anne Frank” at Taipei’s Umay Theatre in Huashan 1914 Creative Park.
It is in fact the second time this powerful play is being staged in Taipei. It was first staged last December at The LAB Space to a sold-out crowd. This time, the play is showing in Taipei tonight and Sunday, as well as in Tainan from May 19 – 20.
The play has already received much critical acclaim, so I was greatly anticipating seeing it when the director of the play, and also Artistic Director and Founder of Butterfly Effect Theatre, Brook Hall, kindly invited me.
And after watching the play, I can honestly say that this staging of Wendy Kesselman’s 1997 adaptation of The Diary of Anne Frank is fully deserving of the praise it has received. All of the elements in the play – the script, cast, acting, directing, set, and costumes – come together to successfully retell Anne’s phenomenal story.
The play has a phenomenally talented cast to its name, with each actor skillfully channelling all of the highs and lows of living in such dire, but at times, hopeful circumstances.
Particularly strong performances can be seen from rising star Camryn Rowe, who convincingly portrays Anne Frank, D.C. Rapier who gives an emotive and truthful performance as Otto Frank, and Deni Carson, who reflected Petronella Van Daan’s idiosyncrasies down to a tee.
In terms of this play’s adaptation of the story, I think Taipei Times reporter Jerome Keating put it best when he wrote in his review of the play, “We experience the full range of tension, emotion, sacrifice and resilience that living long-term in close quarters demands. We also sympathize with them, firstly as fellow human beings and secondly as Jewish refugees as they endure this hardship.”
Indeed, the audience is drawn in by all of the trials and tribulations the Franks, the Van Daans, and Alfred Dussel face living in the secret annex. However, we also see the close bonds which are formed, the triumphs, and the love and friendship which blossoms over time.
We learn, through Anne’s story, that even in darkness, there is always light.
This is in part represented by the many comedic elements in the play. Talking to the Brook Hall after the show, I mentioned how I was surprised by the number of comedic elements to the play. He explained that those elements are all part of her multifaceted story.
The play, after all, is primarily concerned with supporting her legacy to live on. And that is how, in Hall’s words, “She really wins in the end.”
Anne Frank’s story is one which we all need to learn and remember. If, like me, you have read her diary, this play will take her story to another dimension. If you haven’t, it’s the perfect opportunity to develop our understanding about such a defining part of history that we must ensure we never forget, nor repeat.
The Diary of Anne Frank
4/14 – 8PM (Umay Theatre, Huashan 1914 Creative Park, Taipei)
4/15 – 2:30PM (Umay Theatre, Huashan 1914 Creative Park, Taipei)
5/19 – 2:30PM & 8PM (Ben Feng E Warehouse, Tainan)
5/20 – 2:30PM (Ben Feng E Warehouse, Tainan)
Tickets can be bought at the door, but it’s best to book online in advance to avoid disappointment.
Huashan 1914 Creative Park, Umay Theatre | 華山烏梅劇院
1, Bade Rd Sec 1, Taipei City (台北市八德路一段1號)
Ben Feng E Warehouse | 奔放E倉庫
No.107 Huangong Road, Yongkang District, Tainan City (台南市永康區環工路107號）