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The Diary of Anne Frank (BADA)

PUBLISHED: 15:24 04 May 2011

Peter Van Daan (Warren Taylor) and Anne (Karen Rattenbury)

Peter Van Daan (Warren Taylor) and Anne (Karen Rattenbury)

Archant

The Burnt Ash Drama Association (BADA) has staged some ambitious productions over the years. However, The Diary of Anne Frank — performed last week at St Andrew’s Hall in Bromley — suffered from over-complicating what should have been a very simple show.

Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett’s adaptation opens with Anne’s father Otto (David Evans) revisiting the annexe where the Frank family spent almost two years. He is presented with her diary by their helper Miep (Susie Howell). At first he wants it destroyed, the memory of her death in a Nazi concentration camp too painful, but then he relents and starts to turn the pages.

What follows is an extended flashback, faithfully transcribed from the famous journal.

The problem with BADA’s staging was one of pace. It took an eternity for anyone to appear on stage once the house lights went down. After the inevitable theme from Schindler’s List, a variety of random sound effects attempted to fill in the gap, but this only emphasised the hiatus.

Then there were long interludes between scenes in which stage workers went about their unhurried business of moving a plate or pulling down a bedsheet. David Evans’ and Bert Howell’s set was claustrophobically dark and cluttered; such minute attention to detail was distracting and unnecessary. This was especially obvious after the climax when (unseen) Nazi stormtroopers broke in. I’ve never seen a moment of high drama ruined so comprehensively.

The scenes themselves were well directed by Mair Lloyd-Roberts. She had a generally strong cast, most impressive of whom was Rowena Mafham as the world-weary but kind Mrs Frank. David Evans was also very good as her husband Otto.

But both spoke in German accents, whereas the rest of the cast made no attempt to disguise their South London twang. This just sounded odd.

Warren Taylor (Peter) and Karen Rattenbury (Anne) looked significantly older than 13 and 16 respectively. Rattenbury had bags of energy, and it was easy to see why comical dentist Mr Dussel (Simon Clark) should find her so irritating.

Caroline Vicat was lovely as the bourgeois Mrs Van Daan, whose most precious possession is her fur coat. Her boorish husband was played, appropriately, by Richard Boorman.

Finally, and perhaps most annoyingly, we had an awkward tableau at the end instead of a proper curtain call. Why? I’ve never met an audience member yet who prefers to applaud the character instead of the actor.


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