“Thirteenth Spring,” written by Amanda Jane Shank and directed by Fernando Belo, is a completely original version of the Anne Frank story. The first five minutes take place completely in the dark, nary the sound of groans of people obviously living in the foreboding shadows of fear. As Anne’s family most likely spent many an hour before being discovered by the Nazis, we are treated to Anne’s smiling face, pre-hiding, who is wonderfully played by Nora King(also one of the show’s producers.)
She is having an animated conversation with her charming suitor/boyfriend, “Hello,” (played by Joseph Tanner Paul.) With a happy go lucky, carefree attitude, Anne’s naivety ironically shields her from the reality of life, though her poetic perception deeply counters that innocence. Poignant lines describe the claustrophobic environs of the Frank family dwelling, the family that tried to survive, despite the atrocities that befell them in Amsterdam. One charming scene, is Anne’s 13th birthday, where her father Otto (Michael Bates) presents her with her most prized possession, the famous diary. Such lines of dialogue include “My grandparents are two halves of a whole,” and “I think I talk too much,” with Hello’s quick response, “You need to find the perfect listener.” Her parents are excellently played by Michael Bates and Elena Sanz. They dote on Anne and her sister Margo in a symbolic foreshadowing sequenced worry when she’s late in packing up her belongings… for a destination unbeknownst to her.
The play is the poignant story of a young optimistic girl who loved life to the fullest, yet caught in a conundrum of horrible fate. Her vivid imagination dazzles the audience, compared to the set’s nuances of darkness and light, brilliantly interspersed in this production. A fringe masterpiece.