To close out Butterfly Effect Theatre’s season, director Brook Hall has a clear winner with Wendy Kesselman’s 1997 adaptation of The Diary of Anne Frank.
In the brief space of two hours, Kesselman’s powerful script condenses the narrow world that eight Jews in hiding (the Frank and Van Daan families and a dentist) endure for two years. We experience the full range of tension, emotion, sacrifice and resilience that living long-term in close quarters demands. We also sympathize with them, firstly as fellow human beings and secondly as Jewish refugees as they endure this hardship.
Hall has a competent cast with DC Rapier playing the strong patriarchal Otto Frank, who keeps all on an even keel regardless of circumstances. At the outset, he lays down the “daytime rules of absolute quiet” — no shoes, or noise, not even a flushing of the toilet, lest anyone in the workplace below hear suspicious sounds. Sarah Brooks plays his wife Edith, the harried mother who strives to provide support while also reining in the exuberant Anne.
Photo courtesy of Lee Hsin-che
Individual wants must be sacrificed, yet at times selfishness appears. Deni Carson plays a contrasting Petronella, the stereotypical “Jewish Princess” who married down to Herman Van Daan, played by Barry Hall. Tensions boil and arguments erupt when he sells her precious fur coat for needed supply money. Daniel Chang (張靈) is their sensitive son Peter who parries the prying Anne. He also gives Anne her first kiss.
Camryn Rowe excels in the pivotal role of the inquisitive and sensitive Anne. Full of vibrant energy and varied emotion, she engagingly bounces around the set to the delight and annoyance of all as she gives gifts or accidentally spills a drink on Petronella’s fur coat. Sandra Li (李友珊) on the other hand handles the heavy challenge of Anne’s restrained and dutiful sister Margot.
Finally, David Zen (曾達文) delights as a hypochondriac dentist who hates cats, yet must share the flat with one. Viola Wang (王敏姿) and Jason Little serve as the helpful Dutch friends who bring in news and much-desired goods from the outside world.
Kudos as well to Anton Botes whose sound effects and positive music score balance the play’s heavy ending while Yang Chih-yi (楊之儀) delivers on the encompassing multi-level, multi-room set in which all must be crammed.
An upcoming tour is scheduled next year for Taipei, on April 13 to April 15 and Tainan on May 19 and May 20.
Otto von Bismarck once famously remarked that the “great European war will come out of some damn foolish thing in the Balkans.” We may have inched closer to that damn foolish thing in recent weeks. On Feb. 1, a new law came into effect in China, which codified Beijing’s claim that its well-armed Coast Guard could remove vessels in its waters “illegally” and use force against them if necessary. This is no more or less a “law” than any other law administrated by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), since Beijing could use its Coast Guard to attack vessels from other
Whether or not the Formosan clouded leopard still exists in some hidden mountain fastness somewhere in Taiwan is a question that has fascinated the scientific community for many years. Taiwanese researchers attempted to put the question to rest a decade ago by scouring the Dawushan Nature Reserve (大武山) in Taitung County, but came back empty-handed. The survey ran from 1997-2012 and used over a thousand camera traps, but did not turn up a single cat, and the species was declared extinct in 2013. Renowned Taiwanese conservationists Chiang Po-jen (姜博仁) and Kurtis Pei (裴家騏) conducted the field work and published a
March 01 to March 07 There was only one Taiwanese department head in Taiwan’s first post-World War II provincial government: Sung Fei-ju (宋斐如), who served as deputy director of the department of education. Sung, who lived in China for over two decades, had close ties with the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and was also allowed to start his own newspaper, the People’s News-Leader (人民導報). Aside from Sung, only a handful of Taiwanese held significant positions in the government, almost all of them banshan (半山, half mountain) like him. The term refers to those who moved
Taiwan’s oldest surviving Christian house of worship stands in a village at the base of the Central Mountain Range. Upgraded to a basilica minore by Pope John Paul II in 1984, Wanjin Basilica (萬金聖母聖殿) was established in what’s now Pingtung County’s Wanluan Township (萬巒) in 1863. The church’s founder, Dominican priest Father Fernando Sainz (郭德剛), was one of the first missionaries to enter Taiwan after the signing in mid-1858 of treaties between Qing China (which ruled the island between 1684 and 1895), France, Great Britain, Russia and the US. These agreements, collectively known as the Treaty of Tianjin (天津條約), compelled