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A new adaptation of 'The Diary of Anne Frank' fixes some history, but good acting is stifled by awkward accents and noises


None September 30th, 2010

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The Diary of Anne Frank
Poteet Theatre
8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday
St. Luke's United Methodist Church
222 N.W. 15th
www.poteettheatre.com
609-1023
$12

For more than 60 years, "The Diary of Anne Frank" has been one of the most widely read accounts of Jews trying to escape the Holocaust during World War II, making its author one of the most discussed and mourned victims of Nazi persecution.

Penned by a teenage Anne, the diary chronicles the two years she and her family spent in hiding in Amsterdam between 1942-44. The quality of her writing and her tragic death gave a voice to millions who left no record of their lives behind.

For its production, Poteet utilizes a script by Wendy Kesselman that dispenses with some of the historical fallacies of a previous stage version, and incorporates elements of the restored edition of Anne's diary, detailing a strained relationship with her mother and her budding sexuality. While an improvement, Kesselman's adaptation struggles at times with characterization and consistency of tone.

Poteet's "Diary" is hampered by muddled accents and stilted performances, the latter caused to some degree by the former. Practically the entire cast strives for some semblance of a German accent, but only manages the occasional inflection. Normally, I don't critique accents, but with this cast, the accents are a hindrance nearly across the board.

Jordan Palmer excels as the more mature Anne in Act 2, contemplating the changes in her body and her pursuit of a developing relationship with Peter (Josh White). Delivering a more natural and understated performance is Shawna Linck as Anne's mother.

In supporting roles as Miep Gies and Mr. Kraler, Jayme Petete and James Joslin deliver sincere performances. Jamie Brewster makes a strong impression as Peter's mother.

Director Randall Hunter takes center stage at the end of the play as Anne's father, Otto, closing out the show with an emotional monologue detailing the characters' fates.

Worth mentioning is the cameo appearance of Peter's cat, Mouschi, played by a real live feline credited as Hobo Link. Instead of just pretending there's a cat in the basket, the animal is seen for all of a few seconds before being shut up in a dark picnic basket for the rest of the scene.

Obviously not happy with its situation, Hobo's frantic meows went on for minutes, distracting from the drama and bringing into question the treatment of the animal. While a potentially traumatized cat in no way compares to the suffering and death of six million Jews, it does come off as a tad insensitive in a play that deals so heavily with human cruelty.

The drama boasts an overgenerous use of music from John William's score from "Schindler's List," and while I think it would have been heavy-handed in any case, if the performances would have been there, I'm sure that they would have made a devastating emotional combo. As it stands, the music is just a constant reminder of what doesn't work. "”Eric Webb
 
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