Grounded (Tour – Birmingham)

Lucy Ellinson stars in Gate Theatre’s one woman show, ”Grounded”.

Lucy Ellinson
Lucy Ellinson
© Iona Firouzabadi

We never discover the name of "The Pilot" but the connection we make with her, in just over an hour, is profound. 'Grounded' proved a hit with audiences in both Edinburgh and London during 2013 and with a revived passion and perfect execution the production is back as it embarks upon a national tour.

Directed by Christopher Haydon, and starring Lucy Ellinson, Gate Theatre's production tells the story of a US military pilot, from her early days flying F16's high in the sky to being grounded, controlling Drones from a base in Nevada as she raises a family. The story is captivating with real human interest; I do not hear one cough or sneeze in the sold out auditorium as the audience feed on the momentum, thriving on every word.

Lucy Ellinson is magnificent, an engaging storyteller and a gifted performer, she allows us to glimpse behind the mask of the strong and independent fighter pilot to the emotional struggle and daily challenges of being a woman. Enclosed in a box, a thin screen is all that separates The Pilot from the audience; the setting is intimate and with clever use of sound and light not one prop is missing as the story unfolds.

'Grounded' does not glorify war, nor does it choose to ignore the inevitable death and suffering it brings. As the monologue progresses we witness the emotional turmoil war inflicts; the patriotic soldier, so passionate about her cause, so certain of her calling, starts to struggle with killing in the name of war. In taking away life, a godlike duty, we see the shadow of her guilt, and though far removed from the battlefield she starts to crumble causing her to question the everyday and putting strain upon her once indestructible and passionate relationship.

With a traumatic climax and devastating twist the play makes us question: in war, does anyone really win? The best one-woman show I have ever seen. I highly recommend 'Grounded' as it goes on tour.