Theater Review: 'The Diary of Anne Frank'

The character of Anne shone with her quick wit, active imagination and forceful love of life.

anne frank 88 (photo credit: )
anne frank 88
(photo credit: )
The Diary of Anne Frank JEST Beit Shmuel Jerusalem December 16 The Pulitzer Prize-winning Diary of Anne Frank was performed with heartrending effectiveness by the Jerusalem English Speaking Theater (JEST) at Beit Shmuel. The near-mythologized tale of the secret annex and its doomed inhabitants was brought to life in this skillful adaptation: In the midst of fear and horror, there was also the inevitable comedy that emerges when such mismatched people must live in cramped quarters for two years. The theme that many have drawn from the Diary of Anne Frank is that it chronicles a brightness of spirit during the darkest of times, and that was the theme most emphasized in the play. The character of Anne shone with her quick wit, active imagination and forceful love of life. Played with deft energy by 13-year-old Avigayeel Kollek (former mayor Teddy Kollek's granddaughter), Anne danced and pratfalled and struck poses all over the set, giving the impression of a tiny whirlwind. Her mercurial nature first annoyed, then bewildered, and then finally dazzled the more stolid Peter Van Daan. Anne was particularly beloved by her father Otto Frank, played by veteran JEST actor Marvin Meital; and Meital's character ended up acting as the backbone of the play and the moral center of the secret annex. Meital's unshakable gravitas was the bedrock upon which the rest of the ensemble depended. But if not for the chemistry between the actors, who were always in each other's company, the play would not have succeeded. It was the actors' notable success as an ensemble that entertained the audience at first, caused dread to grow as the play progressed, and ensured that by the end, there was not a dry eye in the house.