Cleveland Play House’s ‘Diary of Anne Frank’ overcomes script woes to offer a mo…

The query that canine any oft-produced play is “why now?”

The Cleveland Play Home first staged “The Diary of Anne Frank” within the 1958-fifty nine season — World Struggle II a bit of greater than a decade within the rearview — and once more in 1997.

Within the third incarnation, on the Outcalt Theatre by way of Sunday, Nov. 19, inventive director Laura Kepley makes use of a script by Wendy Kesselman moderately than the one Clevelanders are used to seeing — the Pulitzer Prize-winner by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett.

For this, we’ve got cause to rejoice, as a lot as is respectable, given the darkness of the fabric. 

The Goodrich-Hackett model, based mostly on the guide “Anne Frank: The Diary of a Younger Woman,” premiered on Broadway in 1955 and mirrored the prevailing sentiment of the occasions — that Anne not be so Jewish and her story be much less of a downer.

However methods to rectify Anne’s finish — one of many 6 million Jews slaughtered within the Holocaust — with the calls for of an viewers that needed uplift? 

The play sentimentalized the precocious, German-Jewish teen pressured to enter hiding from the Nazis together with her household in 1942, and traded on the optimism captured in certainly one of her most well-known strains: “I nonetheless consider, in any case, individuals are really good at coronary heart.” 

(That youthful hopefulness, argues writer Cynthia Ozick, in her scathing 1997 New Yorker essay “Who Owns Anne Frank?” would little question have been changed by a darker worldview had Anne survived to write down one other day after being hauled off to Bergen-Belsen.)

Within the arms of the married screenwriting duo answerable for hits with completely satisfied endings (“Father of the Bride,” “It is A Fantastic Life”), Anne’s rage at being persecuted by Germans merely for being Jewish was tamped down and universalized, became vagaries about man’s inhumanity to man. 

In her adaptation, Kesselman mines Anne’s writings to revive her ethnicity and extra. The diary was recovered within the cramped higher flooring of an workplace constructing in Amsterdam, the place she lived together with her mother and father and older sister, Margot, for some two years till they have been found. However, earlier than publishing it, Anne’s father, Otto, stripped out elements he wasn’t snug with.

Kesselman makes use of these uncomfortable passages, detailing Anne’s enmity towards her mom, Edith (what teenage woman hasn’t, sooner or later, hated her mother?), in addition to musings about her altering physique. Kesselman provides us a flesh-and-blood Anne, a extra fascinating woman than the skipping saint, one who may properly have lit up the…

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