Presented by Glam – Global Arts Management
Reviewed 17 February 2018
It’s no surprise this one woman show, written and performed by Ingrid Garner, has won accolades and awards around the world including Best of the Fest award in Edmonton Canada, Best Theatre Weekly Award in Adelaide and the Critics Choice Award at Fringeworld Festival in Perth.
Garner adapted the memoir of her grandmother Eleanor Ramrath Garner into a powerful and moving tale to tell the story of her grandmother’s childhood in Germany. When Eleanor was only 9 her father moved the family from New Jersey to Berlin because of work. In America, Mr Ramrath had believed that Hitler would be good for Germany as its economy was at last recovering from the devastation of WWI and the Great Depression and Hitler would not jeopardise that by going to war.
Everything is strange in Germany and the family now lives in a small apartment, not a lovely house as in New Jersey. Eleanor and her older brother Frank want to fit in and make friends and so ask to be allowed to join the Hitler Youth. She mistakenly sees it as rather like the Boy/Girl Scouts back in America and only much later comes to realise how deeply the young people were indoctrinated into Nazi beliefs. As life got harder for the family, particularly with 2 more children, Eleanor’s father’s views changed and he said and did things which put the family at risk.
The performance takes place on a bare stage with just 2 chairs and a cabin trunk which between them are used to represent everything from a bed to a dining table to the body of a dying German soldier. The lighting is basic but effective – deep red when there is a bombing raid – as are the sound effects of the wail of the air raid sirens and the terrible noise of the bombs as Eleanor and her family cower in the basement of their apartment building.
This simple setting is enhanced by the use of projected images from Eleanor’s story: the house Eleanor is forced to leave in America; their apartment building in Berlin; food queues; and the devastation of Berlin at the end of the war. The characterisations of other people in the story are excellent but special mention must be made of Garner’s representation of Eleanor’s mother. By a seemingly simple change of stance, tone of voice, accent and body language she ‘becomes’ the mother.
I highly recommend this production and also urge you to see the sequel Eleanor’s Story: Home is the Stranger which continues the tale after Eleanor returned to America.
Reviewed by Jan Kershaw
Rating out of 5: 4.5
Season: 17-18, 25 February, 3 March at 12 noon; 24 February, 10 March at 1.30 pm; 17 March 3.30 pm
Venue: Tandanya Theatre, 253 Grenfell St Adelaide
Duration: 60 mins
Tickets: $32, Conc $28
#ADLfringe @eleanorsstory @Tandanya