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.
Last week BBC updated its backgrounder on China and Taiwan, entitled “What’s behind the China-Taiwan Divide?” BBC’s backgrounders on Taiwan have been (cough, cough) very creative, and this latest iteration, while an improvement over the earlier versions, is a proud torch-bearer for that tradition. The BBC begins by observing that “Austronesian tribal people” were the first people in Taiwan. What does the use of the word “tribal” suggest about those people, compared to the Chinese? After that, the Aborigines disappear from the story. Because they have the earliest and strongest claim to Taiwan? To keep them in view would of course
Well that wasn’t a particularly auspicious start. The town of Dawu deep in southern Taitung County is not, it turns out, the gateway to Dawu Mountain (大武山) Nature Reserve. From their reaction, it seemed that nobody in this tiny collection of indigenous-styled wooden houses and its post office had ever heard of the mountain. So I headed out of town on my rented scooter and followed a road that appeared to lead into the interior. Rice fields, power stations, pretty mountain roads and birds, but no Dawu Mountain. Heading back north on Provincial Highway 9, the views of radiant blue Pacific
April 19 to April 25 Taipei’s Dalongdong Baoan Temple (大龍峒保安宮) was in a sorry state following the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) retreat to Taiwan in 1949. About 200 refugees and military dependents had taken over the 119-year-old structure and set up camp in makeshift dwellings. When writer Wu Chao-lun (吳朝綸) moved to Dalongdong in 1950, he saw “little incense burning; it was extremely crowded … and there was barely any space to sit. They washed their clothes with dirty water and hung them up still dripping. This is not only blasphemous, but unsanitary.” To save the temple, locals put together a restoration
Magic mushrooms have a long and rich history. Now scientists say they could play an important role in the future, with their active ingredient a promising treatment for depression. The results from a small, phase two clinical trial have revealed that two doses of psilocybin appears to be as effective as the common antidepressant escitalopram in treating moderate to severe major depressive disorder, at least when combined with psychological therapy. “I think it is fair to say that the results signal hope that we may be looking at a promising alternative treatment for depression,” said Robin Carhart-Harris, head of the center for