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Theatre Review: Through the Eyes of Anne Frank



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(Sacramento, CA)
Friday, May 20, 2011

This compact production depicts the lives of eight people who take refuge in a hidden attic. They desperately need to remain quiet, so that they won't be spotted and taken to a concentration camp.

Anne Frank, being a teenager, has a lot of questions for her dad.

Father: "Now, we're going to put our shoes in this basket."

Anne: "But this is just above your office."

Father: "Yes."

Anne: "I didn't know this space was up here."

Father: "No one does."

Anne: "Well, won't people know? It can't be safe."

Father: "We've arranged it all."

Anne: "This will be the first place anyone thinks look."

Father: "It's safe. As safe as we can hope for. No one knows we are here."

Sister: "No one knows?"

The isolation in the attic stretches into years. Anne and her family can't leave, not even when Allied bombers start pulverizing Nazi fortifications near their hiding place.

Peter: "What's that."

Father: "It's all right, it's far away."

Mrs. Van Daan: "No, it's not! Peter, come here, come here now"

Father: "Alright everyone, leave everything, stay calm, stay quiet."

Anne: "No, I...."

(Bomb falls).

That bomb just misses the family's hiding place. But the tension keeps rising, as the group starts running out of food. The play becomes a compelling study of a family under extreme strain, because they can't go outside -- but in hiding, life is untenable.

The B Street Theatre has lavished considerable resources on this little show, which features seven professional actors in a venue that barely seats 100 people -- an uncommonly generous ratio, and probably not a profitable choice. But some things are worth doing right for their own sake, and this handsome show is one of them.

The script, by longtime B Street actress Dana Friedman, is sensitively written. And Buck Busfield's careful, understated direction conveys the quiet desperation of these good people, as they struggle to get along in cramped quarters where they have almost no privacy, nowhere to go when feelings become frayed.

This production is an excellent example of the maxim that good things come in small packages. It's well worth checking out.

The B Street Family Series production of "Extraordinary Things: Through the Eyes of Anne Frank" continues through June 5th.

B Street website:

http://www.bstreettheatre.org/current-shows/extraordinary-things

 Website for the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam:

http://www.annefrank.org/

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