Grounded at Park Theatre
Monologues are often employed by playwrights to express a character’s want – a strong, unwavering want. For the pilot in Grounded, a fascinating production by Deafinitely Theatre, it is an unwavering want to fly in a beguiling monologue.
Among many things that stood out in this production, the lone character of the female fighter pilot – portrayed in this production by two actors in synergy combining British Sign Language and visual story telling – was the sheer grit and conviction she possesses. She takes us on a journey that includes many turns, some free falls and endearing pit stops. She is a pilot after all. She is skilled in wielding through and, as you hold on to the edge of your seat, you realize she is skilled at soaring too.
The play centres on this fighter pilot as she begins her life and synonymously ends her career in the sky with an unforeseen but welcome pregnancy. The character is immensely nuanced and so thoroughly well defined that even when the story becomes a part of a larger conversation, specifically the use of warfare in this century, the audience can’t help but remain captivated. There is a sense of light-hearted buoyancy that comes with these heavily debated topics and one can see the deliberate research behind them. Once the play is stripped down to its bare essentials, another bright, gleaming crux really shines through – George Brant’s skilled writing. The play benefits from strong writing and his ultimate treatment of heart-tugging dilemmas like guilt, shame, motherhood, love, sex, family, femininity and self. It is not a strong-armed opinion, merely a raw, reverent portrayal of primarily a tough-as-nails pilot’s ultimate descent into madness. The play stays with you a long time after you leave the theatre and forces you to re-evaluate not just the moral responsibility of a war that is fought with remotes but the ethical and empathic responsibility of those who fight it for us.
There is also a significant use of subtext – we don’t need to see the pilot’s family, we are witnessing it anyway. Together, we also witness as she moves from female fighter pilot to lover to mother to drone pilot, changing roles swiftly and effortlessly and we root for her every bit of the way.
Grounded is one riveting ride that doesn’t disappoint and doesn’t plummet.
Grounded is on at Park Theatre from 27th October until 21st November 2015. For further information, visit here.