Adelaide Fringe

Fringe Review: Eleanor’s Story: An American Girl in Hitler’s Germany

Presented by Offending Shadows Productions
Reviewed 18 February 2017

Based off of her grandmother’s award-winning autobiography, Ingrid Garner brings the story of a young woman growing up amongst the atrocities of the Second World War to the stage. Eleanor’s Story: An American Girl in Hitler’s Germany is a one-woman tour de force that delivers both heart and heartache to this powerful story. Following Eleanor from the ages of 9 to 16, this show is definitely one to catch not only for the wonderful story but also Garner’s honest and engaging performance.

A show of this style requires the highest quality performance and Garner delivers on every level. Her performance is a delight and every nuance of this emotionally complex show is convincing and engaging. In this one-woman show, Garner potrays the titular Eleanor as well as the other three members of her immediate family. She switches between these characters with ease utilising accent, posture and gesture to quickly and clearly define each character. The physical and emotional  journey taken by each of the characters is wonderfully portrayed and there is never any confusion about who Garner is playing.

The set is simple; comprising of only two chairs and chest like those used to carry technical theatre equipment. This is slightly jarring at first as it sits at odds with the period of the show but it fast becomes irrelevant as Garner flips and turns it to create several key locations. Projections are also used to bolster the appearance of the locations but the quality of these are inconsistent. Luckily these are easy to block out and they are not central to the plot of the show.

The sound and lighting are serviceable but have their drawbacks – albeit very minor ones. The lights in the first sequence do not adequately cover the space, resulting in Garner’s face being partially in shadow. Multiple sound effects were used to enhance several scenes as well as providing dialogue for smaller characters in the show. These were mostly effective but Garner was left waiting for sound cues more than once. These criticisms, however, are minor and do not overtly mar the high quality of the show.

This show is a simple and passionate telling of a beautifully emotional story. Garner’s performance is strong and her personal connection to the show is clearly evident in the care with which she tells it. Eleanor’s Story is performing throughout the Fringe and this is definitely one to squeeze into the schedule.

Reviewed by Nathan Quadrio
Rating out of 5:  4

Venue:  Live at Tandanya
Season:  February 18th – March 19th
Duration:  60 mintues
Tickets:  $20 – $30


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