You probably know the story of The Diary of Anne Frank. I had somehow made it this far in life without ever seeing the play, the movie made from the play or reading the actual diary of the titular young lady. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t know the story.
It’s one thing to know that The Diary of Anne Frank (newly adapted by Wendy Kesselman) is about a group of Jews hiding from Nazi oppression over an Amsterdam shop, but it is quite another to see Pioneer Theatre Company (in conjunction with Indiana Repertory Theatre) breathe life into the characters and set them in motion onstage.
And what life they bring. As one might expect, the heavy lifting is done by Rebecca Buller in the role of Anne. She is spritely and vivid as an adolescent girl going through all the normal teenage things—a changing body, emerging sexuality, rebellion against her parents—all under the heel of arguably the most atrocious regime in history.
The rest of the cast backs her up admirably. Characters are layered and believable, bringing the audience into their tiny capsule of a world devoid of privacy or fresh air. Their tension and fear are palpable; their exuberant hope of impending liberation at learning of the D-Day invasion of Normandy moved me to tears.
Tales of the resilience of the indomitable human spirit are corny, sometimes. But sometimes, as with PTC’s The Diary of Anne Frank, they’re real and true.