Journey into confined space

grounded head pic


The Door, Birmingham Rep


GEORGE Brant’s play is an explosively dynamic one woman show that comments not only about the effects of modern war, but sheds light on human emotion, womanhood and the sacrifices we all have faced in order to pursue our dreams.

The production shows an overwhelming journey of power and emotion through a woman’s experience of working in the American military. Narrated superbly by Lucy Ellinson, an incredibly strong actress with an incredible talent, we see the life of a fighter pilot who’s great struggle is to come to terms with life’s circumstances.

After becoming pregnant whist fighting at war, she must give up her life in the sky and become ‘grounded’, forced to overcome a new life working in a simulated drone on the ground in the Las Vegas desert, becoming part of ‘The Chair Force’. Ellison depicts the internal fight with emotion and reason to continue a balance between an equal, but painfully conflicting love for both a job and family.

The audience are first introduced to Ellison standing commandingly within the unlikely set. She is surrounded by a cube gauze box no bigger than three metres square, remaining inside throughout the entire performance.

This is a powerful image and an interesting allusion to the messages of Brant’s work. The Pilot is trapped, both in mind and in the new life that has unfolded through the years. The bare box is her only world of which we can only see in, but the pilot cannot get out. Our first introduction to her world is seen in a commanding preset as The Pilot stands proudly in her fighter pilot uniform, with a background of roaring rock music. She greets the audience with confidence, knowing already the story that is to come.

Immediately there is a sense of excitement for what to expect and there is a definite hint that this strong woman will be as dynamic as this introductory portrait depicts.

Ellinson is an incredible performer that injects us with vivid colours of emotional power from start to finish. She uses the ninety minutes to make us believe that there is no other world but her own. She has a wonderful range that shows a sharp fighter pilot on the surface, but gives a touching show of emotion as a caring mother in tender moments.

Her quick portrayal of the script along with Brant’s cutting writing both align beautifully together. It is clear to see that Ellison has a magnificent talent and a natural ability to narrate, but with the direction of Christopher Haydon, Brant’s work takes off with Ellison’s slick approach to The Pilot which allows the plethora of emotion to be truly felt by all.

This production is a thrilling example of the sheer power of theatre. It’s thought provoking energy gives way to many general ideas about war in the modern day, but with the added extra of Ellinson’s magical performance, this is a subject about individual drive and the power of where pure human emotions can lead us. To 06-09-14

Elizabeth Halpin



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