Newbury Youth Theatre - Dear Kitty
26th to 27th July 2001 at Newbury Corn Exchange and 12th to 19th August at the Edinburgh Fringe.
About the play
Dear Kitty is an adaptation of the diary of Anne Frank. With specially written music and lyrics, it is about the courage and stamina of the Jewish people hidden in the attic in Amsterdam, and the people hiding them.
This was the review of the Corn Exchange production.
Tangible feeling of terror
'DEAR KITTY', performed by Newbury Youth Theatre, at The Corn Exchange, on Thursday, July 26 and Friday, July 27
What a challenge - a play devised from Anne Frank's famous diary. Having seen Newbury Youth Theatre perform before, I was expecting something good.
The set was effective, with that familiar, haunting picture of a smiling Anne bordering the platform, and the action was interspersed with chilling war footage. The concept had provoked thoughts about genocide throughout the world, and the opening scene, with the performers carrying candles and describing events in Rwanda, Kosovo and Germany, was very powerful.
The effect was somewhat diluted, unfortunately, during the first song, which was unimaginatively staged, with the youngsters kneeling down and standing up again, several times, and that initial disappointment continued intermittently throughout the play.
There were some very good scenes, notably the Jews fleeing to Holland on the train. The feeling of confined space in the secret annexe was tangible, as was the terror when they thought they had been discovered.
Charlie Johnson grew in stature and confidence as Anne, with real stage presence and a potentially great singing voice. Sam Hall was a sympathetic, understated Miep, and Matt Tait was an intimidating Hitler Youth, making that evil propaganda sound very plausible and attractive.
However, in some scenes, there was no sense of energy or focus. Too many of the performers were looking around waiting for the next line to come, and even grinning at the audience, and some of the other Hitler youths slouched about in a very indisciplined way, detracting from the impact of their scenes. At times, the diction was so poor we couldn't understand what they were saying. Anne and Peter's relationship seemed to have developed from nowhere, but suddenly they were sealing it with a kiss! And there was little family feeling between the parents and children.
The ending was sensitively handled, with the sad fate of each character narrated as they left the stage, although I wondered if the opening scene might have worked better as an epilogue. The talent is there, but the production could do with a little judicious tweaking before they perform at Edinburgh this month.
Here is the Edinburgh review.
'DEAR KITTY', Newbury Youth Theatre, at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, until Saturday, August 18
Newbury Youth Theatre can he justly proud of their very moving production at the Quaker Meeting House.
I saw it Last Saturday evening, on their final performance.
And this was the NWN comment.
NYT get Edinburgh streetwise
There was a buzz of excitement in the train when they announced "16 minutes to Edinburgh". Luggage was collected, coats put on, but the broad Scottish accent had actually said 60 minutes. It had been a long journey for the members of Newbury Youth Theatre, making their fifth
visit to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe with their musical play about Anne Frank. Anita Hatch used this experience to help her develop her character in the
play: "eight hours in a confined space was really awful - I can't imagine how the occupants in the attic managed for two years."
They write from the Fringe: