Writer: George Brant
Director: Christopher Haydon
Reviewer: Jennie Philpot
Grounded, the gripping one woman play about a fighter pilot who is forced to fly from the ground, has landed at Birmingham’s REP theatre after opening in Edinburgh last year.
This single act, autobiographical monologue tells the story of an unnamed F16 fighter pilot who everyday ‘dreams of the blue’. The pilot takes the audience through the highs and lows of discovering she is pregnant and so is no longer able to fly, a job that had consumed her every waking hour, as well as those of her sleep. She is forced into flying drones across the dark desert of the Middle East from the security of her portacabin in Las Vegas. Although reticent at first, she soon realises the benefits that staying grounded brings. She seems content until she starts to draw comparisons with her own life and is forced to make a life-changing decision.
George Brant’s scripting is masterful, capturing the turmoil that is created when someone is forced to live half their life in a war zone and then has to go home to suburbia. It is however, Lucy Ellinson’s portrayal of a tormented soul that really brings this play to life. The timing and tone with which she delivers her lines is incredibly effective. Her performance is dripping with sarcasm, a tool that brings home the sheer horror of the situation as well as allowing an outlet through humour.
Ellinson spends the whole 60 mins within a cell-like container which she paces around. With the help of simple but clever lighting this becomes not only her portacabin, but also her house, a bar and finally the prison of her soul. Music is used well to depict her internal feelings as well as helping to define the different parts of her day; this is effective but does occasionally drown out her words. For the most part Ellinson’s American accent is superb; it is a shame that at the start we lose some of her words due to the speed of speech. Minor grumbles that are very short lived.
This is a contemporary play that asks many questions and gives few answers; questions about the morality of drones, the feeling of estrangement, and ultimately the choices that we all have to make, no matter how far removed we are.
Picture: Igor Dmitry | Runs until:6th September 2014