And Then They Came For Me
Reading The Diary of Anne Frank raises a lot of “what ifs.” What if the Nazis hadn’t discovered Anne and her family? What if she had managed to escape? What if Anne had survived the concentration camp where she eventually was sent?In a fascinating and poignant Foothill Theatre Company production of And Then They Came For Me, a cast of talented young actors (and two talented adults), give us a glimpse of what could have been. Anne isn’t the main character of this play, but her diary introduced the world to the two young teens who embody this story of survival.
The play is about two of Anne’s childhood friends, Helmuth Silberberg and Eva Schloss, who went into hiding and lived to tell their harrowing tales. Silberberg eventually escaped to Belgium, and Schloss, who was found by the Nazis and sent to Auschwitz, endured to live a long life.
This is an imaginative, tender and heartrending multimedia production. Historical photos and voiceover recordings by the two survivors overlap onstage performances. The stage is stark; sliding see-through panels of chain-link fence are moved to portray schoolyards or concentration camps. Other than a few props, such as a table and chairs, and a bicycle, the actors are alone on the stage, bare as the emotions they display.
At first, it’s disconcerting to see such young actors dealing with such heavy, inhumane subjects. Then it dawns on you that they’re the exact age of the brave teens they portray: 14 and 15. Most impressive are India Parrish as Eva; Jordan Thomas-Rose as Helmuth; Rachel Devitt as Anne; and a courageous Hannah Limov, who portrays a brainwashed Hitler youth. In the question-and-answer session that follows each performance, Limov expressed the dilemma of being Jewish and playing a Nazi youth, bringing an added poignancy to a moving survival story.