Grounded – A Gut-Wrenching Exploration
Joanna Gaskell plays a phenomenal role in this production. I cannot gush enough about how much intensity and passion she brings to her performance and how captivating her storytelling is. Iris O'Neill was the real star of the show however, all two feet of her!
The actual production is about Joanna, playing the role of a fighter pilot in the US military, telling the story of her journey from flying her F-15 “Tiger” in Iraq, to returning stateside as a new mother, to flying drones from Las Vegas. Sam (played by O’Neill) is her pre-school aged daughter and a source of frustration for the pilot. The pilot revels in flying fighter jets and screaming across “the blue” with missiles tearing apart the ground, “returning cities to the sand” as she puts it. The news of her daughter brings her home and grounds her in a domestic life. When Sam is old enough, the pilot tries to rejoin the air force but finds that piloting drones is the only option for this new war. From blue skies to grey screens, she is like a bird clipped of its wings, and a warrior stripped of her honour. Without the threat of death, without danger to herself the war is not fair.
Grounded is a gut wrenching exploration of the way war has changed in the past decades, how drones put soldiers in a distanced position to enact ruthless violence from afar without direct consequences. We watch the pilot's mental health break down from guilt and the horror of war. I felt torn leaving the theatre, feeling the trauma of the pilot and what she had to do after losing her wings. Truly a powerful experience, Grounded is worth your time – go watch it.