Adelaide Fringe. Presented by Global Arts Management. Tandanya. 22 Feb 2019
Ingrid Garner’s Eleanor’s Story: An American Girl in Hitler’s Germany is a hard act to follow. It was a 5-star award-winning hit of the Fringe in 2015, a breathtaking and heart-rending work even out there amid the hubbub of the parklands. It was derived from her grandmother Eleanor Ramrath’s harrowing autobiographical account of her childhood years growing up amid the terrifying tensions of living in Hitler’s wartime Germany as an alien. It has toured widely and it is even on this year’s Fringe program for anyone who missed it. It is best they catch it now since Ingrid is now presenting its sequel, Eleanor’s Story: Home is the Stranger.
Still channelling her grandmother’s vivid memories, she brings to life the sensations of a teenage girl who is at last allowed to leave Germany and return to her native USA with her father and brother. She has to find a place in a blithe other world among peers who have never gone hungry let alone seen death or crouched in bomb shelters. She tries to adapt to different values, teaching styles, and dress but when she least expects it, spectres of the past emerge to trip her up. Traumas of war are not easily sidelined.
Garner once again slips into her grandmother’s skin to tell her story. She has it down to a fine art with just two chairs and a trunk as a simple, moveable set. She darts easily between characters, voices, and accents as the narrative moves between present and memory. She is deft and graceful and beautifully committed. The audience is stilled, rapt and emotionally enveloped.
At the end, a snatch of the grandmother’s voice is played adding another dimension to the human power of the story. That her grandmother is still alive and living in California reminds us that Nazi Germany was not that long ago.
When: 22 Feb to 2 Mar