By Tom Wachunas
Some folks (including a few of my students) have expressed to me their perplexity about the disparity of viewpoints between my review of the Players Guild production The Diary of Anne Frank (the post immediately preceding this one) and that of Repository reviewer Summer Moore. Here’s a link to her review from February 27, followed by a letter (printed here in italics) I sent on to The Repository which was, I’m grateful to report, published in the March 4 edition.
Meaningful critique of iconic, potent theatre art such as "The Diary of Anne Frank" calls for artful language. In that regard, Summer Moore's review of the Players Guild production of the play, published in the February 27 edition of The Repository, was shockingly shallow at best.
Moore's sophomoric complaint - that actress Rebecca Yourko, in her role of Anne, was too rambunctious, loud and "giddy" - is specious, and completely misses the point of Anne Frank's demeanor. Moore compounded her lack of depth with an insulting assessment of the eminently accomplished Players Guild as being outside its "comfort zone" with this production.
Such insensitive writing is a great disservice to your readership.
Now, I fully realize and accept that divergent opinions among critics in the arts world is a fact of life, and I have very rarely engaged in critiques of critiques. But in this case, I wrote my protest because I felt that in fairness to the Players Guild, a vigorous retort was in order, predicated by what I firmly believe is Moore’s disproportionately misguided take on the characterization of Anne Frank.
Even more disturbing to me is an attitude implied in her closing paragraph. Is the Players Guild somehow at fault or inept when performers and audience aren’t given a platform “to have some fun?” Do we expect so little of ourselves? I have no axe to grind with the entertaining pleasantries of family-oriented productions and smiley-faced stories. But can we be so cavalier in our pursuit of “entertainment” that we dismiss dramas like this one as a threat to our psychological and emotional “comfort zone”?
As Moore rightly observed in her opening remarks, the story that this play imparts is “hard to tell, hard to read and hard to watch.” Harder to read and take seriously, however, was The Repository review.