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GeorgeBrant’s play Grounded has one character who tells an apparently simplestory about herself.  The plot developsslowly and methodically, and our interest never flags until we reach the tragicend. It makes for superb theatre with an outstanding performance by CarlyStreet.

Thesole character is an unnamed fighter pilot who is ordinary and extraordinary.She is a tough woman, a pilot in the U.S. Air Force fighting in the MiddleEast. She loves her job and has an almost musical relationship with her uniformand the open sky that she always refers to as the blue.

Almostto her surprise, this tough fighter meets Eric, has sex with him and becomespregnant. This necessitates a leave of absence. On her return to active duty,she is reassigned to what she contemptuously refers to as the Chair Force. Thatmeans operating drones over a desert in the Middle East from a chair in thedesert outside Las Vegas.

Herhusband gets a job as a card dealer in a casino and they try to balanceparenting and careers while he works the night shift and she has to put in12-hour days.

Sheis part of a team that tracks enemy movements in the desert, finds them, zeroesin on them and kills them. It is a proxy war where the killing of enemysoldiers is done from a screen thousands of miles from the battlefield. But thestrain of family life and taxing work is starting to take its toll on her. Sheattempts getting help but does not go through with it.

CarlyStreet is on stage for all of the 80 minutes of the show and, of course, shetalks and acts out all the permutations of her story. The changes to andeffects on her mental and psychological balance are slow and insidious. Sheseems to take pride and perhaps pleasure in eliminating enemies on the ground.She yells “boom” with almost delight when she pushes a button and a second anda half later she sees the enemy destroyed. But the enthusiasm may be just amuch a cover as genuine feeling.

CarlyStreet has a small playing area in the Streetcar Crowsnest Theatre’s ScotiabankCommunity Studio. The set consists of a strip of sand in the shape of a U andan office chair and she walks back and forth in that area telling us her story.

Thecouple have a routine that is not that much different from what many peoplelive with. They go to work, take care of the child and try to balance thedemands of each part of their life. But the power inherent in her job of beingable to follow and kill people so far away make her aware of the existence ofsurveillance cameras everywhere. She starts getting paranoid, for example,about someone watching her in India as she goes to the change room of a departmentstore. Is no one safe?    

Thepilot becomes part of an assignment to track down an important enemy. He iscalled Number Two and is later referred to as the Prophet. The drones followhim for days hoping for a definite identification and then liquidation. Shebecomes obsessed with the chase but is she perfectly well? She starts to believethat she is god.

TheProphet is located driving a car and is followed by the drone and of courseviewed by the pilot. He stops. She sees a little girl run to meet him. Thelittle girl looks like her daughter.

Iwill not spoil the ending for you because it is pivotal to the story.

Brant’smonodrama is a highly demanding play for actor and director. Kerry Ann Dohertyshows a steady and intelligent hand in directing Carly Street.  The play and the performer must seem normalalmost all the time. The pilot is just a normal but capable woman who can do atough job as a fighter pilot and a drone pilot as well as being a good mother.But all is not as it seems.

Thisis a fine-tuned and superb production of a terrific play.


Grounded  byGeorge Brant in a production by Theatre Six continues until February 29, 2020at Streetcar Crowsnest Theatre, 345 Carlaw Avenue, Toronto, Ontario M4M 2T1.,

February 21, 2020

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