Writer: Anne Chamberlain
Director: KC Kelly
Gilded Balloon Teviot is a grand venue: many floors and many rooms to get lost in. Mornings at the Fringe tend to be children’s and family shows, a light touch to start the day. This year, tucked into the Wee Room on Bristo Square, is Anne Chamberlain’s Eglantyne, a touching show about a woman who influenced the way the political world treats children.
New Zealand actress Anne Chamberlain brings Save The Children founder Eglantyne Jebb back to life in this 75-minute, one-woman show. As the writer and performer of the piece, Chamberlain sprinkles bits of herself throughout, which endears the audience to her – and to Eglantyne – even more.
Eglantyne is quite a unique name, meaning sweet briar rose, and she lived a fittingly unique life. Growing up in Shropshire in a large family, she played outside with her siblings often, and they were always close. She endured heartbreak, family deaths, numerous world-changing events, and through it all she worked to protect and provide for children across the world.
One of the most striking pieces of Eglantyne’s story is her drafting of The Rights of the Child, which stands today as part of the United Nations Convention. She campaigned, rallied, and influenced the way the world cares for children, yet her name is unknown. This show adeptly blends truth with storytelling and is ensuring Eglantyne is recognised and remembered for her service.
Chamberlain is an engaging performer, even though she’s battling the air conditioning and the tribulations of a morning show at the Fringe (notoriously small and unenthusiastic audiences). The piece is well-rehearsed and precise, with a simple yet elegant design. Chamberlain’s portrayal of the character of Eglantyne could work very nicely in classrooms, teaching the history of children’s care and rights.
Eglantyne premiered in 2014 and has toured extensively since then. The play has been seen in Eglantyne’s childhood home in Shropshire, various Fringe festivals, and many different countries. Both Chamberlain and director KC Kelly are based in New Zealand and work across the performing arts.
Eglantyne Jebb was a formidable activist, and this show is a stirring tribute.
Runs at Gilded Balloon Teviot – Wee Room until 29 August 2022