Adelaide Fringe 2018
Ingrid Garner wrote and performs the internationally acclaimed, theatrical adaptation of her grandmother Eleanor Ramrath Garner’s award-winning memoir, detailing her youth as an American caught in WWII Berlin.
Eleanor’s Story captures 7 horrifying years of Eleanor Ramrath Garner’s life. Forced to migrate to Nazi Germany, the world she discovered stepping off the boat looks immensely different to what it did when she boarded. Written and performed by her Granddaughter, Ingrid Garner, the audience is immediately drawn in to a journey of a young girl forced to become a woman under the most terrifying and harrowing of circumstances.
Using a minimalist, multipurpose set, we meet Eleanor living a simple childish life of angels, an apple tree, an older brother and two parents. Her family then leaves for what is supposed to be a two year move to Nazi Germany for her father’s work, when war erupts whilst the family is on the boat. Once they arrived, they are unable to return home. Seemingly trapped, Eleanor and her growing family must try and survive Hitler’s rein whilst being bullied and beaten for living in Germany as Americans.
Condensing 7 years into 60 minutes is a challenge that Ingrid Garner has risen to in a captivating way, and the well-crafted dialogue manages to carefully match Eleanor’s development from a 9-year-old child to 16-year-old woman. The performance blends Ingrid’s dramatic and harrowing performance, with images projected as a backdrop. These images provide seamless transitions through key moments – the shifts in political power whilst on-board the ship, the rebellion of individuals – including Eleanor’s own father – and the torn apart remnants of lives destroyed.
This powerful and deeply personal piece has ensured that Eleanor’s tale is accessible and still (sadly) completely relevant to our time. While the historical factors are somewhat different now, the aspects of bullying, racism, political asylum and gender can be directly referenced to events still occurring this decade.
The only minor issue with this production, was a slight over-utilization of the multipurpose set, which occasionally drew focus away – instead of to the performance. However, this small issue didn’t appear to faze the audience – who were completely drawn in to this inspiring and captivating tale of survival.