Grounded – Project Arts Centre – Review – Tiger Dublin Fringe Festival

Grounded c-001

Grounded by George Brant Siren Productions – Review by Frank L.

In 2012, Grounded won the Smith Prize (US$5,000.00) for a work about American politics. It was a prescient choice. The unnamed hero is an F16 fighter pilot who loves her job flying over Afghanistan seeking out the enemy. She is almost a female jock and delights in wearing her uniform, hanging out with her mostly male colleagues and drinking an odd beer. On leave in Wyoming into this cabal, a young man, Eric, who works in his family’s local store, spots her, unintimidated by her colleagues he chats her up. He sweeps her off her feet so that for the first time she is sad when her leave is over. When she gets back to flying in “the blue”, she discovers she is pregnant. Rules state that she must be grounded so she has to work at a desk job.

She marries Eric, a baby daughter is born and she is stationed at an air force base in the environs of Las Vegas. Her job now is to fly, by remote control, a drone thousands of miles away in Afghanistan or wherever. Instead of being in “the blue”, she is now watching a monitor and seeing never ending grey as she follows a potential target on twelve hour shifts.  This “Chairforce” type of flying begins to unsettle her. Her swashbuckling confidence from her days as a fighter pilot begins to alter and doubts creep into her world.

The Project Upstairs has been reconfigured for this production with the stage consisting of a broad, black catwalk, which bisects the space. The seating is placed in parallel rows along each side facing each other. It is an interior runway. Clare Dunne is “the pilot” who has no name… a sort of universal pilot. She is dressed in a suitably androgynous pilot suit wearing a helmet. Only her voice reveals that she is a woman. When she removes the helmet, it is understandable why Eric made his move as she exudes feminine strength notwithstanding the androgynous suit. At each end of the ramp there is stacked a small collection of chairs. Dunne has at considerable speed to move the chairs into configurations so as to create the various different spaces. Dunne gives a commanding and energetic performance and at the end there are not only questions about the morality of drone warfare but also about the effect of being a “chairforce” pilot looking at a monitor in a twelve hour shift day after day.

Grounded by George Brant Siren Productions

Dates Sep 07 @18:30. Sep 8 – 12 @ 18:30 & 20:45.
Other performances Sep 09 , 11 & 12 @ 13:00.
Tickets €22 / €20 conc.
Duration 75 mins.
Venue: Project Arts Centre Space Upstairs

Clare Dunne in Siren Productions' GROUNDED by George Brant - Photo Patrick Redmond_3

Clare Dunne in Siren Productions’ GROUNDED by George Brant – Photo Patrick Redmond

1 reply »

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.