WRITTEN BY: RYAN THUN | STAFF WRITER
PLNU’s very own Salomon Theatre is currently performing “And Then They Came For Me – Remembering The World of Anne Frank.” This production provides an interesting look into the Holocaust through a story centered on two Jewish Holocaust survivors, Eva and Ed, as they look back on their time in Nazi-occupied Europe.
Although the characters’ stories rarely cross, both have a connection with Anne Frank. The stories being told are true stories interlaced with videos of the real-life survivors retelling their stories on a projection screen. The show relies heavily on tech and little action is actually shown on screen. Instead, the actors simply tell the audience what happened as sound effects of footsteps and knocking play in the background.
During the showing I attended, the actors portrayed their characters’ emotions well; they were all believable in their performances. The stand out renditions, however, were those of Russell Clements as Pappy and Leah Sharer as Young Eva. It was obvious that both actors had spent a lot of time learning about their characters and embodying their feelings.
Two characters that I would have loved to see more of were the Hitler Youth, played by Sean Verbitsky, and Anne Frank, who is played by Samantha Watkins. They were both very interesting, despite only being shown in a couple of the scenes. The character of Anne Frank was not seen after she was captured by the Nazis, and even that scene was not included. Her death was not as impactful as it could have been since the character was barely in the show.
One scene that did have a powerful impact, however, was one showing a conversation between the Hitler Youth and Eva after the end of the war. It was a dynamic scene, as the Hitler Youth argued that he was just following orders while Eva retorted with numbers detailing how many Jews were killed.
I really enjoyed this scene, but I felt cut short so the show could move on. I wish there were more scenes like this in the play, as it was one of the few that actually depicted a conflict between two characters on stage.
The show also had a few problems with its technological aspect. Every once in a while, the actors would just stand and awkwardly wait for the media to start playing before the show could go on. This really took me out of the story and made it painfully obvious that I was in a theatre watching actors. Since the show relies so heavily on tech, even small complications had the power to halt the entire production.
I also felt that the play has more in common with a dramatic reading or a program from the history channel than a scripted play. Although it still elicits emotions, I believe it would have been better to choose between showing the interviews on the screen and the actors on the stage. Including both hindered the production.
The play’s main purpose appears to be an attempt to make the Holocaust feel more real instead of simply paragraphs in a history book. While it accomplishes this goal and does pull at heartstrings, this show is far from being a masterpiece of the stage. Nevertheless, it is a production worth seeing due to the actors’ strong, emotional performances. I would recommend it for anyone who might have a chance to purchase a ticket.
PHOTO COURTESY OF NICK MACEDO