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Dicing with boredom

The Diary Of Anne Frank, Harrogate Theatre

Had the inhabitants of Anne Frank's secret annexe known that they would have to stay hidden for more than two years they might well have decided to take their chances out in the open rather than be cooped up for so long.

The tedium of everyday life in the annexe has intrigued director Marcus Goodwin and in his striking adaptation of Anne Frank's Diary he is going to "dare the audience to sit there and be bored for two or three minutes at a time."

But steady on, please don't cancel your tickets. Goodwin's production is sharply defined and conceived and will not lack emotional stature.

Previous stage adaptations of the Anne Frank story have tended to go for the interesting or exciting episodes and staging has been structured with almost timetable efficiency. Lights were dimmed to show the passage of time and then quickly on to the next episode.

Goodwin has chosen to have a seamless production. Music takes the place of lighting for time passing and the tedium comes when the eight characters are seen, for a few minutes, making much the same repetitive movements though they are involved in different domestic or social activities. Their actions hae been carefully choreographed, influenced by Berkoff and other expressive directors, though Goodwin hopes it will not look too contrived.

He has included an extract from the diary when everyone helps to peel potatoes and before long Mr Dussel, much to Anne Frank's annoyance, insists that he is peeling correctly and the others are not.

The actors work on a spare, minimalist set confining their acting to a raised plank stage.

Most parts are taken by regular members of Harrogate Theatre's acclaimed Rep Company with the inclusion of two Jewish actresses to play Anne and Margo. It was not deliberate casting on Goodwin's part, but Rachel Gaffin and Ann Marcuson turned up for audition and they were best.

The actors communicate with the outside world by passing messages and receiving food through a trap door. No other characters are portrayed except for the inhabitants of the secret annexe, an economically pragmatic move on the part of the director but yet another way of emphasising the awful isolation.

From January 25 to February 10. Tickets: 01423 502116

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