‘Anne Frank’ at McIntosh High is great theater

Tue, 11/11/2008 - 4:24pm
By: The Citizen

Once in a lifetime, if we are lucky, we get to experience theater so profoundly moving that it can fundamentally change your world-view.

Such an experience is often found in the last place you would expect it, and it is certainly not what you would expect in a high school production of “The Diary of Anne Frank,” presented by McIntosh High School.

This is not your father’s version of Anne Frank. It is an original production, that, while true to the source material, is abridged to a 55-minute regional “competition” play.

Nothing is lost through brevity, which only serves to heighten and concentrate the visceral impact.

So invested are we in the characters in this short time that, to borrow a worn cliché which just happens to be true in this case, grown men were literally brought to tears.

A drama student from a competing high school remarked, “It was the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen.” Another said, “I laughed at ‘Titanic,’ but cried like a baby at ‘Anne Frank.’”

Those that believe the violence of modern pop culture has desensitized and emotionally hardened an entire generation need only come to a showing of the “Anne Frank” and see teenagers crying along with their parents.

It is difficult to describe why this particular version is so emotionally powerful. It has an original and haunting score, first-rate production values, clever set design, and a talented ensemble group that seamlessly weaves the tragedy of the Holocaust into the story-line in a uniquely compelling way.

The direction is pitch perfect, and the lead players are talented actors that seem perfectly cast. Performances are so good across the board, it seems manifestly unfair to single out a single actor or actress for recognition.

In short, from technical standpoint, an excellent play. This comes nowhere near to explaining why this version of Anne Frank elicits such a strong emotional response from the audience. For whatever reason, the whole is simply greater than the some of its parts.

We are all familiar with theater reviewers who grasp for over the top adjectives to describe their latest favorite. When someone says, “This is truly remarkable,” we largely ignore what we assume is simply more hyperbole.

But this play, “The Diary of Anne Frank” as presented by McIntosh High School, truly is remarkable.

You may have read the book, seen the movie, or even another theatrical version of this tragic and timeless story. But seeing isn’t the same as emotionally experiencing, which is what this version of “Anne Frank” has to offer. This production isn’t just exceptional for a high school play, it is just exceptional.

Donna Malon

Newnan, Ga.

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