GROUNDED. Written by George Brant; directed by Josh Hartwell. Produced by Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company at the Avenue Theater (417 E. 17th Ave., Denver) through Sept. 28. Tickets available at www.betc.org.
The joy of watching Laura Norman bring a character to life is one of the reasons we enjoy theater. The serenity and calm in her demeanor are immediately reassuring. As an audience member, you know that everything is under control; that truth is going to be told and you are going to see something special. GROUNDED is no exception. You have the pleasure of seeing Laura hold the stage on her own and tell an intriguing story.
We meet the Pilot at the top of her game, charging into the blue over the deserts of Iraq. She holds her own with the men in her life at all levels. She is at home in the sky; she is one of the guys. But when she comes down to earth and goes home on leave, she is caught up in the ordinary pleasures … a cold beer, a nice man, a warm bed, a long weekend. As changes occur in her life, she is forced into trading the blue airspace over Iraq for a gray TV image generated by a drone flying into that same familiar territory. The far-reaching impact of this is told in simple but emotional terms and vividly portrays the demands made on our military personnel. You are left asking, “Was she wrong? Someone made a mistake here. Whose mistake was it?”
A simple set adorned with digital décor keeps us connected without distraction. The story and the performance are the moving forces in this production. A flight suit is the only costume, and it’s powerful.
A personal impact: I watched the devastation of the 2011 Japanese tsunami live with fellow office mates as it was happening. The footage was shot by a helicopter over the rice fields several miles inland as the black sludge of the ocean swept over the countryside, burying everything in its path. We watched helplessly as a car went one way and then reversed, trying to escape the black death. In Denver we were yelling instructions to a panicked driver in Japan, and watched with horror as the car was buried. I had the same desperate, helpless feeling listening to the Pilot’s story.
BETC has been providing insightful entertainment for Boulder audiences for years. Now Denver theatergoers have an opportunity to enjoy their work. Congrats to BETC for initiating this move and to the Avenue Theater for hosting them. Once you check out BETC’s Season 9 in the program, you will be beating a path to Boulder for each new production.
WOW factor: 9