Review: Anne and Eva at St George’s Hall

By February 6, 2016


Anne-Frank-Desk“ONE day this cruelty will end and peace and tranquility will return.” The words were written by Anne Frank in the diary she wrote in hiding during the Nazi occupation of Holland and which became an international best-selling book. Her words came true but Anne and millions of others would not see that day.

The simplicity of the Holocaust remains as shocking as ever. If you were Jewish in a country under Nazi control, you would have to run or hide. If you were caught, you would be killed. Just for being Jewish. You might be killed by firing squad or in a gas chamber, you might be worked to death or die from starvation or disease. You might be subject to experimentation, while some simply lost the will to live and expired where they fell. Amazingly, some survived.

The shocking aspect to Anne Frank’s death is that she came so close to surviving. Anne, her father Otto and sister Margot and others went into hiding in an attic apartment in 1942 and survived there until August 1944, two months after the D-Day Landings. The group was betrayed and Anne and Margot went transported to Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, where they died, probably of typhus, in spring 1945, just weeks before the liberation by the Allies. Otto survived and on his return to Holland discovered that Anne’s diary had been saved by a friend. Ann was in many ways an ordinary teenager but her diary reveals her as a talented and perceptive writer, describing her predicament with humour and honesty.

Birkenhead-borrn writer, comedian and musician John Gorman created a moving dramatisation of Anne’s diary in the beautiful surroundings of St George’s Hall concert room. Directed by Liverpool JMU post-graduate Ellie Hurt, this was a terrific performance by Liverpool Theatre School student Justine Saville who had the presence and character to create a memorable 50-minute solo performance.

Just as moving was the story of Eva Schloss, delivered here as a four-handed reading adapted from her book After Auschwitz and featuring Gorman as Eva’s father and Sue Boardman as her mother Elfriede. Eva’s family met Otto Frank at the concentration camp. Otto and Elfriede survived and after the war were married, and so Eva became the step-sister Anne would never meet.