Anne Frank: a far better telling of the story

Fighting Chance Productions. Anne Frank. Havana Theatre.

Playing Anne Frank, Morgan Hayley Smith is disarmingly present.

I thought I didn’t need to see another production of The Diary of Anne Frank. I was wrong. This production from Fighting Chance deepened and revitalized the story for me and introduced me to exciting new talent.

Wendy Kesselman’s 1997 adaption, which is being used here, is vastly superior to the original 1955 stage play. In an effort to be universal, the 1955 version, which was written by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett, largely stripped Anne’s story of its Jewish specificity—which is amazing when you consider that it’s one of the iconic narratives of the Holocaust. “We’re not the only people that have had to suffer,” Anne says in Goodrich and Hackett’s telling. “There have always been people that have had to. . . Sometimes one race . . . sometimes another.” And, in making Anne a spotless martyr, the 1955 play flattens the historical figure.

Kesseleman restores all of that. True to history, Kesselman’s Anne identifies strongly as a Jew and the residents of the attic honour Jewish traditions. True to her diaries, Anne is a complicated figure who is devoted to her father Otto but declares that she doesn’t love her mother Edith: “I can imagine her dying,” she says, “whereas Papa’s death is unimaginable to me.” Kesselman also restores Anne’s full sexuality, including her declaration that that she finds female nudes “so exquisite I have to fight to hold back my tears.” [Read more…]

Posh: Is it worth spending an evening with these toffee-nosed gits?

Fighting Chance Productions is producing Posh at the PAL Theatre.

In Posh, the characters wear dusty-rose cummerbunds, even though they are supposed to be upper-class.

I love class analysis. Posh is packed with class analysis. So why does this script, which premiered in London in 2010, not work for me in this Vancouver production in 2017?

In Laura Wade’s play, a group that calls itself The Riot Club meets in the private dining room of a suburban pub. They are all upper-class students from Oxford University, and their goal for the evening is to get hammered—or chateaued as they call it—and run amok. A tradition of the club is to destroy the rooms they rent and settle the expenses afterwards. [Read more…]