Review: SatG in the Parlour’s The Diary of Anne Frank: “You could have heard a pin drop at the close of the final scene”

Anne Frank at All Saints Church in Huntingdon

Anne Frank at All Saints Church in Huntingdon - Credit: Archant

All Saints Church, in Huntingdon, provided the perfect setting for the SatG in the Parlour production of The Diary of Anne Frank.

Anne Frank at All Saints Church in Huntingdon

Anne Frank at All Saints Church in Huntingdon - Credit: Archant

It was a bitterly cold November night and once the lights went down it felt eerie and uncomfortable, which seemed a fitting homage to the dreadful sequence of events that were about to unfold.

The Diary of Anne Frank, dramatised by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett, captures the two years, from 1942, that Otto Frank, his wife Edith and their two daughters, Margot and Anne, lived in a secret annex in Amsterdam to escape the Nazis who were the occupying force in Holland. They were joined by another Jewish couple called Mr and Mrs van Dann, their son Peter, and a dentist called Mr Dussel.

Serenity Twinn, who played Anne and looked very much like photographs of the real Anne, bolted around the stage in an ungainly fashion that managed to capture all the enthusiasm and frustration of a high-spirited, self-conscious, outspoken 13-year-old girl who was determined to express herself despite the confines of her surroundings.

She was a joy to watch. Engaging and captivating, and her adolescent pain and frustration were almost tangible. Her kindness when she makes presents for everyone was a really touching moment and her growing friendship with Peter, played by Chris Thompson, was beautifully done by both actors.

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Simon Maylor (Otto Frank) provided a seamless portrayal of a man determined to protect his family and friends at all costs. Paul Silver was brilliant as Mr van Dann, especially his cutting sarcasm and his irritable behaviour when he ran out of cigarettes. Mrs van Dann (Charlotte Maylor) was also a stand-out performance as was the quietly spoken Mr Kraler played by Peter Murphy.

We were never really meant to like the selfish Mr Dussel and Peter Finnigan managed to convey his social awkwardness and flawed personality well.

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The stage set and the costumes were wonderful and Steph Hamer and Cherry and Smiley Mildwater all are worthy of mention for their excellent work here.

Ray Livermore’s direction gave us a real sense of the claustrophobic conditions of the attic rooms and the constant danger the family and those helping them were facing.

It felt as if we were being wound in. We knew the shocking ending and what was going on in the outside world, while the families remained hopeful. There was a lot of uncomfortable shuffling around on seats as we neared the terrible conclusion.

The dialogue in the first 10 minutes was slightly hurried, which I put down to first night nerves, and the sound recording of Anne’s voice was difficult to hear sometimes, but other than that, a brilliant piece of work. You could have heard a pin drop at the close of the final scene.

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