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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016


The National Youth Theater closed its season with a bit of the new and a bit of the old all in one. Alexei Borodin actually staged "The Diary of Anne Frank" three years ago as a student production at the Russian Academy of Theater Arts, where he teaches. Now, with a partly new cast, he has opened the show at the Youth Theater, where he is the artistic director.

Even as a student production, this show garnered attention because of Chulpan Khamatova, the young actress who played f and still plays f Anne, the Jewish adolescent girl who chronicles in a diary the two years her family spent in hiding in a loft during the Nazi occupation of Holland. Since then, Khamatova (who also starred in Kinotavr grand prize winner "Lunni Papa," see page II) has become one of Russia's top young stars.

It is good, however, to see her in this intimate, dramatic, non-glitzy role. This season, I saw her shine in two highly-hyped productions, but none of them match her challenging and satisfying work as Anne.

Khamatova is a charming, charismatic young woman bubbling with energy. That makes her perfect as the sensitive, independent-minded 13-year-old Anne. It is a mark of her talent that I never thought it a stretch that she was playing a character nearly half her age.

The play by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett, which has made the rounds of the world's stages and cinemas since 1955, is a schematic narrative piece with all the requisite sentimental signposts in place. But then this story of a young girl and her family, most of whom were eventually exterminated in the Nazi death camps, is one that attacks the emotions.

Borodin effectively places the actors and spectators together on the stage. Dim lighting holds a sense of suspense and, by lowering spotlight booms down to a height of just above our heads, Borodin creates a tangible sense of claustrophobia.

This is a simple but moving piece of theater directed well and with good acting at the center.

f John Freedman