by Lynn on February 17, 2020

in The Passionate Playgoer

At Streetcar Crowsnest, Carlaw and Dundas

Written by George Brant

Directed  by Kerry Ann Doherty

Set and costumes by Melanie McNeill

Lighting by Michael Brunet

Sound by Thom Marriott

Cast: Carly Street

The Pilot (Carly Street) is a confident to the point of cocky fighter pilot who takes pride in her expertise to down whatever planes that she must in the line of duty. She lives hard and fast and then goes drinking at the bar with her flying colleagues. One night she’s chatted up at the bar by Eric. They connect, go home, have sex and a relationship results. They marry and she becomes pregnant with their daughter Samantha. This means the end of her ‘flying’ career. She’s grounded for her own safety and that of her crew. She’s assigned to ‘fly’ drones and offer surveillance, protection except not by actually flying.

Shifts are twelve hours each, of watching a screen and holding a stick to ‘fly’ the drone. Over time it becomes a ‘white-knuckle’ experience—eyes peering at the screen trying to see something unusual, guts in a knot at the tension. Even though flying is simulated with the drone, the Pilot still wears a flying uniform at work, sitting in her chair looking at her screen. Sometimes she gets so involved with the job she forgets to take off the uniform and change into her regular clothes to go home. The Pilot is close with her young daughter. At times the job takes its toll with her relationship with Eric.

Then matters are ramped up. The Pilot is tasked with tracking and if possible eliminating the second in command of a terrorist group, a man called “The Prophet.” She’s ready. She’s determined. She wants to be the one who ‘takes the guy out.’ But reality starts to play tricks and that’s dangerous.

Playwright George Brant’s play is gripping. The implications of how The Pilot is drawn deeper and deeper into the drone world get more and more serious as the play goes on. The sentences are short and punchy. They create a sense of momentum and urgency. We grip the armrest as well as The Pilot as we too are drawn into her world.

Director Kerry Ann Doherty and her set and costume designer, Melanie McNeill, have created a space with the audience sitting on either side of the playing area. In that space are two perfectly formed parallel formations of pristine sand. It could be symbolic of the edges of a runway—reminiscent of The Pilot’s former life as an actual fighter pilot. Now these two parallel lines of sand can be the edges of the highway that takes her to and from work. On the way home she often gets out of the car and hides things in the sand, indicating that all might not be right with The Pilot.

Carly Street is a powerhouse as The Pilot. This is performance of a person who takes no prisoners, neither in the air or on a screen, tracking some nasty piece of work who needs eliminating. Her speech is clipped to the point of being abrupt. She is watchful but is up for a good time. That’s why Eric attracted her and a relationship flourished. She is not afraid of being a caring, attentive, loving mother with her baby daughter. And just as quickly she can be a determined tracker with the hope of being the one to kill the Prophet. As the play gathers momentum, Carly Street’s speech gushes out like a torrent. Heart pounding, pulse racing. The unseen people around the Pilot are calm it seems; only the Pilot is getting more and more tense. It’s a performance of a woman who is trying to hold on to the image on the screen and her sense of reality. Kerry Ann Doherty’s direction is careful, meticulously detailed and slowly gains momentum until you are left breathless at the end. It’s a terrific production of an intriguing play.

Grounded by George Brant is the first production by a new artist-driven theatre company called theatreSix. I look forward to many more productions from this group. Bravo.

theatreSix Presents:

Opened: Feb. 14, 2020.

Closes: Feb. 29, 2020.

Running Time: 75 minutes.

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