Edinburgh 2013: Grounded - A one woman answer to Zero Dark Thirty


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The Independent Culture

This is theatre's answer to Zero Dark Thirty, but instead of Jessica Chastain and a multimillion dollar re-enactment of the hunt for Osama Bin Laden, there is one woman, standing in a flight suit and boots, in a gauze cube.

George Brant's gripping monologue is the story of an F16 fighter pilot (brilliantly expressive Lucy Ellinson) who is grounded when she falls in love and falls pregnant. Returning to work, she finds that she has been assigned to the "chairforce", flying a drone over Pakistan from the relative comfort of a trailer in the Las Vegas desert. Her days are spent with her hand on the joystick watching a blurry screen before returning home to her husband and child every night. The tedium is only relieved by the odd opportunity to lift a finger and blast an enemy thousands of miles away.

A rapidly unravelling Ellinson never lets up the pace on the rat-a-tat storytelling for a second. As a result, Brant's script packs an awful lot into 60 minutes. It's a fascinating insight into the life of drone pilots and war by remote control that also raises questions about the mental welfare of the armed forces, surveillance culture and motherhood. Christopher Haydon's stylish production transfers to London's Gate Theatre at the end of this month, where it deserves to be a hit.

To 25 August (0131 228 1404)