Fringe 2018 review: ‘Eleanor’s Story’ powered by historical gravitas

In September 1939, as millions of Germans were wishing to flee their country, 9-year-old Eleanor Ramrath Garner and her family were arriving from New Jersey. Eleanor’s dad had accepted a two-year job contract, knowing little of the war that was to start on the very day of their disembarkation. With this real-life nightmare as the premise, Eleanor’s Story: An American Girl in Hitler’s Germany continues its successful Fringe world tour, lending historical gravitas to each festival along its own journey.

Ingrid Garner adapted this theatrical history lesson from her own grandmother’s memoir. And her performance is more emotionally resonant because of that family connection. Her presentation is always a bit stronger when she’s speaking directly to the audience – as opposed to embodying Eleanor’s mother, father and older brother – but this is still one of the most memorable dramas of this year’s Fringe.

Directed by Craig Tyrl and presented in the Orlando Museum of Art’s Gold Venue, the show might lack intimacy if you’re sitting at the back, so get there early for a close seat. But the expansive auditorium does allow for projections of war-torn Berlin on the large screen above the stage, and with just a couple of exceptions, those photos and short newsreels enhance the narrative.

More peculiar is Garner’s set, which consists of two folding chairs and a large trunk. She drags the latter around repeatedly, using it as a stand-in for other objects. Its movement is a tad distracting until one realizes that the trunk symbolizes not just Eleanor but all Hitler’s victims: reluctant travelers searching for home, constantly being tossed around by the whims of a madman.

Eleanor’s Story: An American Girl in Hitler’s Germany
GLAM - Global Arts Management, CA
13 & Up – Mature Themes
60 Minutes
Gold Venue
Thursday, May 17, 2018 @ 7:00 PM
Saturday, May 19, 2018 @ 4:30 PM
Sunday, May 20, 2018 @ 8:00 PM
Monday, May 21, 2018 @ 7:30 PM
Thursday, May 24, 2018 @ 6:45 PM
Saturday, May 26, 2018 @ 4:45 PM
Sunday, May 27, 2018 @ 1:30 PM

Location Details

Orlando Fringe Gold Venue

Orlando Museum of Art, 2416 N. Mills Ave. Mills 50

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