Sandburg, R.N. Anne of Green Gables A 1-6 This adaptation of L. M. Montgomery’s classic Canadian novel is a gem. Set on Prince Edward Island at the turn of the century, young orphan Anne Shirley is eager to be adopted by the old spinster and bachelor siblings, Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert. Anne’s temper, sensitivity to her physical appearance, and tendency to escape to her romantic dream-world makes her “trial period” humorous to watch. She insults Marilla’s best friend, Mrs. Lynde, intoxicates young Diana Barry with currant wine, is accused of stealing Marilla’s amethyst brooch, and smashes her writing slate over classmate Gilbert Blythe’s head. On the other hand, Anne also demonstrates maturity and responsibility: she is honest, sincerely desires to control her temper, works hard, is at the top of her school class, and saves the life of the Barrys’ baby, Minnie May. At the end of the play, Anne allows herself to believe that Marilla and Matthew love her and truly wish to keep her when they tell her: MATTHEW: I’d rather have you than a dozen boys. You mind that, Anne-rather than a dozen boys. You’re my girl. MARILLA: And mine. It’s never been easy for me to say things out of my heart, but I love you as dear as if you were my own flesh and blood. I need you here, Anne. Because she is teased and taunted about her hair (called “Carrots, carrots!”) by Gilbert Blythe, Anne’s grudge against him underscores all her good deeds and righteous intents. The play wraps up in a melodramatic style, in order to teach a lesson. Diana Barry lovingly scolds Anne: You’re impossible. When you’ve done something wrong, everyone’s expected to say it’s all right. But when someone’s done something to you, there’s no way to make up for it. How can anyone be friends with you? After pondering her attitude and desire to stay at Green Gables, Anne tells Gilbert: You’ve always treated me like a friend; I’ve just been too foolish to realize it. The play is fun and easy to follow. Although much of the dialogue from the novel is omitted, and some lines are manipulated to fit this adaptation’s intent, Sandberg preserves the effervescent, sparkling essence of Montgomery’s story. Sandburg, R.N. Seattle Children’s Theatre: Six Plays for Young Audiences. Edited by Marisa Smith. Smith And Kraus, 1997. ISBN 1-57525-008-X. $16.95. 308 pp. Reviewed by Melinda Wolfer
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