Until 03 Mar 2019

Review by Paige Mulholland

Presented at the 2019 Adelaide Fringe Festival

Anyone who had seen “Eleanor’s Story: An American Girl in Hitler’s Germany” might think that the true story, which follows a nine-year-old Eleanor Garner, who moves to Germany in 1939, only to find that a war has broken out during her voyage across the Atlantic and she is now trapped in Nazi Germany, ended when the war did. But how can a girl’s story end when she is barely sixteen and has a whole life ahead of her?

“Eleanor’s Story: Home Is The Stranger” follows Eleanor’s family’s hard decision to return home to the US after the war without her German-born mother and her youngest siblings, Eleanor’s hard transition from the near-post-apocalyptic Berlin to an urbane, privileged life in New York, and the trauma that the war has inflicted on Eleanor’s psyche and relationships.

One of the most special and unique aspects of this show is that it is performed by Eleanor’s granddaughter, Ingrid Garner. Ingrid is able to switch easily from Eleanor’s rusty English to her peppy classmates’ American twang (admittedly, the fact that Ingrid is American does give her a distinct advantage here) to her father’s low, authoritative tones and her mother’s German accent, matching each character with a distinctive physicality and expression. The occasional stutter doesn’t turn the audience off – how could it when the script so seamlessly combines flashbacks to the traumas of Hitler’s Germany with the engrossing story of young Eleanor trying to fit back into a world she was ripped from what felt like a lifetime ago?

With just a few chairs and a trunk to tell the story, Ingrid easily transforms her performance space into the tattered streets of Berlin, a cramped New York City apartment, a crowded American school hall and more.

If you’ve seen the original “Eleanor’s Story”, this is an excellent sequel. If you haven’t, then this is a wonderful story in its own right (but you should still go see the original).

Rating: 4.5 stars (out of 5)