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Grounded at Birmingham Rep Studio

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by dpm (subscribe)
dpm is a Birmingham-based freelancer with experience of arts and lifestyle features.
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Play presses the button
This raw tale of a fighter pilot forced to make choices has been a runaway success for writer George Brant.

Playing Birmingham Rep's Studio space, its reputation preceded it and the venue was pretty packed for the first of a three night run.

Lucy Ellinson takes the part of an F-16 fighter pilot who lives to be 'in the blue' in this Gate Theatre production presented by Beckie Darlington.

Grounded, Birmingham Rep, Lucy Ellinson
Lucy Ellinson in Grounded


But when the nameless woman becomes a wife and mother she discovers her airborne days are over. Instead she becomes a flyer of drones – hovering over the deserts of Afghanistan and making split second decisions whether to drop the bomb.

These decisions are made thousands of miles away from the action in a camp in Nevada and yet Afghanistan become increasingly real to her.

It is not long before the disconnect between her role as lover and nurturer and her role as killer start to pull her apart.

Directed by Christopher Haydon, Grounded's entire staging is a lit box in which the character appears trapped from the very beginning. As the monologue progresses it becomes increasingly clear that this sense of being caged in goes much deeper than the visual.

The action is taut and Ellinson has us enthralled as she stares at a monitor, actually staring into the audience, and tries to make the decision whether to press the button or not.

It all becomes very real as we all wait for her actions – and their consequences.

The one frustration of Grounded is that sometimes Ellinson's diction is hard to catch. Her speed of speech coupled with rapid movements and sometimes background sound means some of what she says is lost. While the speed catches her enthusiasm or anger it does risk losing the audience at times.

Within its 80 minute production, Grounded certainly covers a lot of ground taking us all on a journey which brings us to the heart of modern warfare. Its complications, its uncertainties and its consequences are all played out in the life and experience of one woman.
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Why? One woman's war
When: Sept 4-6
Phone: 0121 236 4455
Where: Birmingham Rep Studio
Cost: £12
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