If you live in Amsterdam, it’s impossible to miss the ‘Anne’ posters plastered all over town. In fact, at one point I think I even saw an entire bus branded with the big yellow ‘Anne’ letters, calling attention to one of Amsterdam’s most historic and harrowing tales. If you’re not familiar with The Diary of Anne Frank, I’ll assume you’ve been living under a rock. As an American, reading Anne’s diary was part of my elementary school education. And as a current Amsterdam-dweller, understanding Anne’s intimate portrayal of World War II reminds us all that life in the Netherlands hasn’t always been peachy, and that this open and accepting Dutch mentality was hard-earned.
Last week, I was invited to Theater Amsterdam, not only to see their interpretation of Anne’s saga, but to also enjoy a lovely three-course dinner at Boven de Planken, the theater’s bespoke restaurant.
It sits on the second floor of the theater, surrounded by large glass windows overlooking the IJ. The views are beautiful and while the space is open, the lighting is intimate and cozy.We started with a platter of mixed appetizers ranging from swordfish to duck (and a cute paper bag of bread, not depicted here).Followed by our mains. I went for the grilled sea bass which was served with chive mashed potatoes and fennel salad. Despite the fact that I’d already had a HUGE work lunch, I completely cleaned my plate. The sea bass was crispy and well-flavored, and the mashed potatoes were better than the ones I’d had at lunch ;)For dessert I went for the creme brulee, which is one of my all-time favorite sweets. It was delicious, and again, cooked to perfection. Following our meal, we headed downstairs into the theater. The play Anne is in Dutch, but if you identify yourself as an English speaker ahead of time, the theater will arrange for a special tablet to be installed in front of your seat. You can then choose to subtitle the play, or hook up your headphones and listen to the dialogue in English (pre-recorded by the original cast!) Pretty cool if you ask me :)We weren’t allowed to take photos during the show, but here are three of the official performance photos. The play was quite close to the original narrative of Anne’s diary, with dark theatrical undertones . . . . . . and the intensely optimistic viewpoint of a 13-year-old girl.
“It’s really a wonder that I haven’t dropped all my ideals, because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet I keep them, because in spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.” Anne Frank
The cast was quite talented, the set was beyond impressive, and at the end of the show, I don’t think there was a dry eye in the theater.Other than the play, one of my favorite parts of the evening was enjoying a quick intermission snack at the restaurant. Earlier in the night, at the end of our dinner, the waiter took our ‘intermission order’. Then, half way through the play, we were invited back upstairs to enjoy champagne and snacks. An appreciated luxury compared to concession stand lines luke-warm cans of diet coke.
After the play, we were treated to a walk back-stage. Again, I was asked not to take photos, as the entire build is extremely progressive and top-secret, but to sum it up . . . the entire set was built to scale (think four story Dutch canal house) and was placed on a track so scenes could transition seamlessly from French bistro to Amsterdam annex. The entire evening was a delight, and I would highly recommend a trip to the restaurant in addition to the theater. Going to the Anne Frank house is one thing – but seeing the story of Anne Frank reenacted on a breathtaking set in Amsterdam is a beautiful and chilling experience.