25 October, 2020


Five women and a journey into life's uncomfortable truths

Pablo Bartholomew
What would you do if a neighbour sought refuge in your home during a riot, and a mob came knocking? What would you do if you had to choose between yourself and your child in a crisis? Uncomfortable questions, right? The questions The Spirit of Anne Frank raises are not the same, but they are close enough: giving away its exact nature would be unfair to future audiences. However, similar, uneasy thoughts must have crossed the minds of those watching Roysten Abel's play in Delhi last week. As the play ends, silence falls, an uneasy calm before the applause begins.

Is it all too close to home, and the self? Headlines of the the day—communal riots, unspeakable atrocities, frenzied nationalism—give the play an eerie resonance. The storyline is simple enough: five women in a train bogie, one of whom is reading the Diary of Anne Frank. As the train chugs along, the women talk about their lives and loves; prejudices and secrets tumble out, vulnerable selfs surface as facades slip.

So what did the Diary have to do with the play? The Dutch connection...


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