What happens to a hot-rod fighter pilot when life’s course takes a different road? That is what is explored in the Chicago premiere of “Grounded”, an award winning play written by George Brant. This is a one woman narrative where the main character, the “pilot” ( a warm, touching character played to sheer perfection by Gwendolyn Whiteside) takes us through the cycle of her being the “hot-shot” pilot, who meets her “man”, marries and has a daughter. During her pregnancy, she is “Grounded” and when she is able to return to work, it is not as a “pilot” of an actual “fighter jet”, but as a “pilot” of a radio controlled Drone.
Her new position makes her a member of the “Chair Force” instead of the Air Force, where she works a twelve hour shift far from the field of action from a trailer in Nevada, just a hop skip and jump from Las Vegas. Here, she is hunting terrorists that she and her “team” watch via the “eye in the sky” that is part of her Drone. Her 19 year old companion has the camera and ability to fire upon those that could be members of the enemy.
Directed by Lisa Portes on one of the studio stages at The Greenhouse Theater Center ( known as Number 4, upstairs) on a set designed by Sarah E. Ross, that is both simple and exotic, with some wonderful lighting effects by Sarah Hughey and sound ( with original music) by Lindsay Jones and of course projections by the fabulous Mike Tutaj, this is a warm and tight production that allows us to watch the actress convey an amazing story to us.
For ninety minutes, Ms Whiteside shows us how her character, the tough guy fighter pilot finds love and happiness, then loses her position in life. She is now a mother and a wife, but no longer the pilot that she had always been or wanted to be. Now, forced to be what one might call a video game operator, wearing a headset and handling a joystick ( of sorts), Yes, she is , or was a fighter pilot, but of greater importance, she was human and therefore had feelings and emotions. Being “grounded”, and becoming a member of another family ( non-military) was a hard adjustment and doing the job she did each day and heading home to attempt a normal life made it even more difficult the next day.
The audience watches very intently as Whiteside, the story teller takes us into this woman’s life and opens our eyes to the assumptions that are brought to the floor by Brant under the direction of Portes. This is a beautiful production that has a somewhat surprising ending. One that you might find great for discussion. “Grounded” will certainly make people aware of the effect war has on our military. American Blues Theater will host Town Halls as follows:
June 15th, June 22nd, June 29th and July 6th after the performances.
The show will continue at The Greenhouse Theater Center located at 2257 N. Lincoln Avenue, through July 13th, with performances as follows:
Thursdays , Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m.
Tickets are $19- $49 ( open seating) and are available at the box office, by calling 773-404-7336 or at www.americanbluestheater.com
Parking on the street is available, some metered, some not and there is parking at the Garage that used to be Children’s Memorial Hospital just north of the theater,
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-up and click at “Grounded”.
NOTE: this could be a warning. Many of you know Ms Whiteside from her amazing work in “It’s A Wonderful Life , Live In Chicago” an annual event at ABT. In this role, her language is a bit saltier, so be prepared!