Whilst Berlin was at its most vulnerable, battling the savageries of World War II, Eleanor, a young teen wrapped in a cocoon of solitude, passes through the gate of fire and blood, surrounded by the invisible protective angels in her imagination and a halo of fear and hope.
This is Eleanor’s story: American Girl In Hitler’s Germany.
Ingrid Garner’s adaptation of her Grandmother autobiography is unique and richly theatrical.
The most dramatic and visual parts of the book are represented, and there is enough in her performance to bridge the gaps that our imagination could not conjure.
In a vigorous one-woman show, Ingrid re-stages her grandmother’s story, combining her strong artistic abilities with clever sound and lighting effects and screened pictures from real moments in that period and her grandmother’s family life. My only qualm was the venue, where some audience members would have had partial or obscured views.
Eleanor’s character is multi-dimensional and dynamic.
Her dual identity as an American-German, her presence at school in Hitler’s Youth as an American born German girl, her sympathy for both sides of the war and her interest in the minutiae of people, neighbours, interior spaces, buildings and events during the most brutal war was admirable.
Ingrid’s Eleanor is truly brilliant at noticing and animating these nuances.
On a mostly bare stage, Ingrid uses a few objects to turn a room into a yard, a ship, a cellar, a street, a bed, and even the body of a soldier.
She narrates her grandmother’s diary and whilst maintaining her own point of view, embodies the different characters by switching her vocal tone and body gestures in an instant.
Ingrid portrays the horrific circumstances of the war, highlighting the unknown destiny of Berlin’s defenceless inhabitants.
It’s a ruinous period of history represented by one incredible performer, strong enough to evoke the heart of darkness where the limen between life and death is thinner than a strand of hair.