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May 5th, 2015
Reviewed by Wendy on May 3rd 2015
Great night out for: The subject matter is probably a bit too dark for a first date, however couples may find it a stimulating topic to see acted out live on stage. Otherwise groups of friends with interests in politics would enjoy it.
Best bit: The silent and very unsettling scenes of her driving home along through the desert each night.
Who would enjoy this show? Those interested in politics, the culture of war or Anne Hathaway fans.
Morning after effect: Paying more attention to news articles which discuss drone warfare thanks to a more intimate insight into its effects.
Verdict: We give it five out of five stars
The Public Theater's Anaspacher Theater makes the perfect setting for this chilling play by George Brant. Small, intimate and dark, the venue itself stirs up a sense of foreboding long before Ms. Hathaway has even appeared on the stage. When it comes to Off-Broadway productions such as these, the word 'stage is an overstatement as the performance area is a small space where the audience looks down onto the performer, with no-one more than six rows away from the action.
As the play begins, Ms. Hathaway silently walks onto the stage dressed in an airforce jumpsuit and helmet, both of which will be two of her three main props for the night. Set against the cold sand poured out onto the floor and the black mirrored screens hanging above and behind her, she seems small and fragile. That is, until she takes of her helmet and jumps straight into "Southern-female-fighter-pilot-dontcha-know-it" mode, and all illusions of her frailty are set aside for now.
Grounded centres around the emotional and mental effects drone warfare has on one female pilot who, after having a child, is plucked from the sky and reassigned to the "chair force" as she calls it. She soon discovers however that even the chair force is able to unleash terror, with the computer from which she works providing detailed images of the deaths of her human targets. For hours on end, she controls her drone however once her shift is over, like any other office worker, she hops into her car and drives back home to where her family are waiting. It's this discongruency between her home life and the reality of the war she is still very much engaged in that causes her character to slip into a state of anger and paranoia, often misdirected at those closest to her.
Ms. Hathaway's performance is a brilliant departure from all the Hollywood versions of her talents - it's raw, loud, often vulgar, and always very real. She bravely holds the audience's attention for over an hour without a break, clearly loving every minute of this role she has wanted to portray on stage for almost half a decade.
View our show pages for more information about Grounded, Anspacher Theater.
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