Grounded, by George Brant, performed by Kate Cole at the Reginald Theatre, SHOULD NOT BE MISSED.
An exhilarated female Top Gun flies her own plane, her ‘Tiger”, striking down the enemy, begins a relationship with an ordinary but love-smitten man, becomes pregnant, is required to stop flying, has a girl child, Sam, and later returns to the Air Force as part of “The Chair Force” in caravans in the desert of Nevada, within driving distance of Las Vegas, in what she calls “The Bermuda Triangle” for pilots, manning, remotely, drones, above the battle fields of the Middle East, becoming “an eye in the sky” to smite the “guilty”. The intensity of the 12-hour, 7-days a week pattern, the required operational secrecy and the constant staring at the grey screen with her team for days and days, searching for an image of what could be a target, where, they alerted, as “god” can kill the “prophets”, only to stay to see, hovering above, the consequences of the remotely pressed button, then to return home in her white car back across the desert, past the pyramid (hotel) in the Las Vegas emptiness, to her saddened but adoring husband and Sam with her pink Pegasus ponies, “exhausts” our heroine. Now, locked in a concrete cell, to preserve the secret of the drones in the desert and its devastating remote warfare, she remembers all, just for us, in a never stopped monologue of grief and guilt.
From the thrill of the blue, to the pink of motherhood, to the chill of the grey, George Brant has written a compelling and disturbing monologue. The disintegration of a single human is a parallel for the further disintegration of the morality of the methods of modern warfare. It makes for empathetic viewing and forces concepts of our own culpability for such stories to be a truth of how we, in the West can go on living the relative lives of the blessed.
In a powerful feat of concentration and actor’s courage, Kate Cole grasps us and holds us suspended through great dynamics of voice, body, imagination and experienced emotions, to take us on an unforgettable, beautifully nuanced journey. It is a magnificent performance. Eighty remarkable minutes. Guided by director, Kirsten Von Bibra, in a claustrophobic cell shape, accompanied by smart situational lighting (just, sometimes a little James Turrell – amazing), the visual design is by Matthew Adey, and brilliantly supported by one of the best composition/sound designs for the theatre of my recent experience, by Elizabeth Drake.
This Red Stitch production from Melbourne must be seen. It will change your life. The season is brief. The theatre is small. BOOK NOW.
Ms Cole’s performance and this production of this writing justifies my relentless search for the great live experience in the theatre. This work balances out the many, many disappointments of one’s theatre going addiction. Grounded is a hit, a palpable hit. GO.
A production with Anne Hathaway has recently opened at the Public Theatre in New York.
Company: Seymour Centre, Red Stitch and The United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney
Venue: Reginald Theatre, Chippendale, Sydney
Dates: 1 – 16 May 2015
For more of Kevin Jackson’s theatre reviews, check out his blog at Kevin Jackson’s Theatre Diary
David Edwards is the editor of The Blurb and a contributor on film and television