27 Jan - 2 Feb 2017 #843

Anne Frank in Kathmandu

What was short in terms of stage props was made up through powerful performances delivered by the cast
Someplace Else by Raisa Pande

The Diary of Anne Frank is being performed in Kathmandu at a time when there are fears of the rise of elected fascists around the world. It is also a sombre reminder of the triumph of the human spirit, during, and despite the Nazi crackdowns against Jews in occupied Holland.

Deborah Merola, Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett’s adaptation of the moving story of a 13-year-old Jewish girl who hid two years before being transported off to a concentration camp is presented by One World Theatre.

Otto Frank and his family moved to a little attic above his business space in Amsterdam which they shared with four other friends. During this time, young Anne wrote down her observations of life around her. And no amount of history classes on the Holocaust will prepare you for the stories told, and the hard-hitting reality of emotions laid bare in this biographical record of a teen a string away from torture in concentration camps.  

The practice location, a single room behind the main building of a college, on a partly deserted lane in Baneswor, seemed completely capable of transporting us to the tiny attic in Amsterdam. This slightly crammed and partially run down room seemed to tick all the right boxes in terms of set and design for this historical biographical drama. What was short in terms of stage props was made up through powerful performances delivered by the cast: a good mix of amateurs and professionals who complimented each other well.

While most of us know the end to this story, we as the audience aren’t just left to drown in grief and lament over the helplessness of the situation. We are witness to more than just uncertainty and impending doom. Through a series of episodic events, best and worst of human actions and emotions during times of peril are narrated, acted out and made to come to life on stage, reminding us all of our demons that lie buried comfortably until disaster strikes.

‘Death is certain. Life is uncertain,’ is more than just a proverb in this case. But in the midst of all the trials and tribulations, we bear witness to budding friendships, selfless love and adjustments made out of necessity. 

Two hours and several deaths later, you do question the brutality of the actions of the Nazis. But as you walk away from the stage and the actors who brought to life the most trying of times, you take with you the satisfaction of knowing that Anne and her friends and family did not merely exist in their years of hiding, they lived and believed that ‘ In spite of everything, people are still good at heart’.

Anne Frank is being staged in collaboration with the United Nations, the European Union, and the embassies of Germany and Israel in Kathmandu.

30 January and 1 February, 6 pm onwards, Naga Theatre, Hotel Vajra, Swayambhu and 2,3 & 4 February, 6 pm onwards, Yalamaya Kendra, Patan Dhoka, 9803715959