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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

One–Woman Players’ show “Grounded” soars

<ir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-4c0a21ad-e8dc-1fd5-eef5-1bdaaed2ff25">On Thursday night, I had the opportunity to sit in on a full dress rehearsal of this term’s Carleton Players’ production of Grounded, a 2013 piece by English playwright George Brant. Grounded tells the story of a passionate fighter pilot whose unexpected pregnancy forces her to end her flying career.

After the birth of her child, she is reassigned to controlling drones in the Middle East from a simulator in an operating base near Las Vegas. At the base, she works grueling twelve-hour days, seven days per week. She returns to her family each night after spending the day flying drones, staring at the simulator screen, and killing her enemies. The rapid transition between war and domesticity, a shift she must face every day, takes its toll on her, and the line between the two worlds becomes blurred.

Grounded is a one-woman show. The unnamed fighter pilot narrates her story, enacting her own thoughts and feelings as well as all of her interactions with other characters, none of whom the audience gets to see. Over eighty minutes alone onstage, moving and speaking for almost the entirety of the performance, is a daunting task for any actress, but Alexandra Pozniak ’18 performed tenaciously and dynamically as the lead.

During the opening minutes of Grounded, I was concerned that it would fail to capture and hold my attention, as a one-character play runs the risk of feeling like a long-winded storytelling session. I was not immediately compelled by the fighter pilot, because she comes off initially as arrogant and mildly abrasive.

Yet, as the story developed, and she was confronted with increasingly complex issues, her character opened up, and I found myself completely immersed in the story and empathetic. Pozniak’s performance as her character’s psyche became increasingly fractured was touching, authentic and powerful. Brant’s writing is a brilliant mixture or lyricism and realism, highlighting the contrast between the imagistic and the concrete while emulating beautifully the inner turmoil of Grounded’s protagonist.

The Players’ production featured a minimalistic set, which served to intensify the already tight focus on the protagonist. While I felt that a fuller set would’ve been refreshing, it would’ve been hard to accomplish due to the show’s fluid scene structure. The lighting effects were outstanding. Lighting changes in the show delineated space in a way that the set could not and reinforced the color-based imagery that appeared in the pilot’s thoughts.

Pozniak had me laughing with her dry delivery during some of the show’s lighter moments, but I was crying like a baby by the climax, and I don’t cry easily. The show’s ending was haunting, and I still have chills.

Directed by associate professor of theater David Wiles, Grounded is free and open to the public, but it would be a good idea to reserve tickets online on Carleton’s theater and dance program page. Performances are on October 21, 22, 28 and 29  at 7:30 p.m. and on October 23 and 30 at 2 p.m. in the Weitz Theater.

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