Fringe review: Eleanor’s Story – Home is a Stranger

American teenager Eleanor survived World War II in Berlin. Now she’s returning to the US for the hardest year of her life – without her German mother and young siblings, but with the trauma that comes from years of war. ★★★★

Feb 20, 2018, updated Feb 23, 2018

Ingrid Garner has been performing her grandmother’s story at the Adelaide Fringe since 2015, first with Eleanor’s Story: An American Girl in Hitler’s Germany (also being presented again this year) and now with the sequel, Eleanor’s Story: Home is the Stranger.

Based on her grandmother’s memoir, Ingrid weaves the story of Eleanor’s return to the US as she attempts to fit back into American teen culture. The production flits between school and home life in a country that now feels foreign, and flashbacks of seven years spent living in Berlin – experiencing death, violence and constant fear.

Eleanor’s Story: Home is a Stranger is a stunning solo show. Ingrid slides easily from one character to another, painting a vivid picture of her grandmother’s life with the help of audio that brings the bombs, school bell, and news reports from the time to the stage.

Three simple props – two chairs and a suitcase – become many different things: a train compartment, a dining table, a school assembly hall.

The show reminds us that trauma is not left behind when war ends. It reminds us to have compassion for others and ourselves.

At the end, the audience hears the real Eleanor’s voice. She explains how she pushed her pain away and tried to move on with her life, but how isolated she felt until she confronted the child inside and poured her onto the page. And so, we learn the importance of grieving.

Eleanor’s Story: Home is a Stranger is a deeply moving piece of theatre. Despite moments of lightness and humour, it will bring tears to your eyes over and over again. And when the show ends, Ingrid Garner will recommend you see a comedy next.

Eleanor’s Story: Home is a Stranger is at Tandanya Theatre at Live From Tandanya until March 18. Read more InDaily Fringe reviews and stories here.


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