“The Diary of Anne Frank” is Pure Tragic Brilliance


A fight of despair, only resting in the hope that the destruction of humanity will pass by, foregoing an atrocity, and allowing them the most creature comfort of all. Life.

Pittsburgh Public Theater and Producing Artistic Director,Ted Pappas, welcomes the gut-wrenching season opening performance of, “The Diary of Anne Frank”, a journey through the first-person account of a young Jewish girl who loses her citizenship during the Nazi invasion and rule of Adolf Hitler. Held up in an attic for two years, Frank and her family remain virtually invisible to avoid detection by the “green police”.

A truly tragic story of perilous opposition adopted by joy, “The Diary of Anne Frank” riddles the soul with poignant ideals and triumph amongst deplorable conditions. Glimmering optimism, they seek a rope in the abyss of the devil’s broken love. Although paralyzed with a wrought sense of anguish, they crack the window none could see. Peering through the glass, they await victory. They await home.

Through feast, famine, and fright, each word uttered provocatively shined light on a situation that quite simply should have never happened.
The magnificently cramped set space, designed by Michael Schweikardt, whisks the audience into the square-footage peril that each person faced on a daily basis.

Remy Zaken as Anne Frank rips the soul. Her snarky, yet exuberant demeanor makes you fall in love with joyful thoughts, and for one moment, we all believed that everyone was good. Zaken’s strength, wit, and fragility all combined for a relevant performance that truly touched the audience. Her broken sense of self, thirst for understanding and unconventional thought process pulled at the heart strings as she navigates life, love, hope, anger, and regret.

Zaken, a graduate of Columbia University, embodied Frank with purity and intent. Through the darkened door in which Frank lives, Zaken characterizes the journey with elegance and spunk. Laughing in the face of a fundamental dissection of the human race, the audience fell hard for Frank, and were truly saddened that they never knew her.

As I was surrounded by tears of men and women at the closing of the show, I realized the mastery that Zaken had achieved. A true audience envelopment.

And while Zaken was fabulous, so was her supporting cast, each adding relevancy and depth to the piercing dynamic.

Erika Cuenca as Margot Frank, Anne’s much less vocal sibling, played her muted role to the tee. Knotted with etiquette, she floats through the space undetected. You can’t love or hate her, because she doesn’t exist for the most part. A perfectly contrasted role of what women were versus what they were discouraged to be.

David Edward Jackson as Peter Van Daan mused an awkward school boy with peculiar tendencies and a very strong attachment to his beloved cat, Mouschi. The whirling annoyance between Peter and Anne provides a warm comedic element, and speaks to their innocence, even in trying times. The calming, yet chaotic nature of their relationship gives a much needed sense of hope to the somewhat hopeless situation. Jackson is perfection in his turmoil.

Randy Kovitz as Mr. Frank nails his role as the peacekeeper. His ability to wrangle the cornucopia of eccentric personalities in one area fit him for sainthood. Referee between Anna and her mother (Christine Laitta), negotiator, counselor, and motivator, Kovtiz executed his role with excellence.

David Wohl as Mr. Van Daan was one of the more polarizing characters in the play. His dissident sense of lawlessness, cut throat nature and melancholy being serves no real contribution within the dynamic, but yet he demands influence. Floating around the loft, he says little, but when he speaks, it is with selfishness or judgement. He bears no loyalty to his wife, or the fruit of his loins, Peter. Wohl crafts a perfect characterization of infamy.

Overall, “The Diary of Anne Frank” is a significant story that should be told and experienced by as many people as possible. As we wonder around our everyday lives, we tend to forget, or fail to connect with the struggles others have faced in their lives, especially those before us. A balance of tragedy, humor, and self-discovery will take the audience on soulful expedition and hopefully a realization that will, for a moment, crack the rugged nature of our fleeting social media sympathy.

The Diary of Anne Frank runs through October 25th. Visit www.ppt.org for ticketing information.