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Grounded

Critics' pick
1/3
Photograph: Rob Strong
Grounded
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Photograph: Rob Strong
Grounded
3/3
Photograph: Rob Strong
Grounded

Grounded. Walkerspace (Off Broadway). By George Brant. Directed by Ken Rus Schmoll. With Hannah Cabell. Running time:1hr 5mins. No intermission.

Grounded: in brief

The gifted Hannah Cabell (3C) plays a pregnant fighter pilot forced from aerial duty and assigned to operate drones in a drama by George Brant, directed by the rapidly rising Ken Rus Schmoll.

Grounded: theater review by Adam Feldman

The woman in the Air Force flight suit in George Brant’s scorching Grounded has trouble letting go of her job at day’s end. Once she soared in an F-16; now she guides drones from a base in Nevada, a joyless minor god doling out judgment from an 8,000-mile remove. The blue skies she loved have turned to digital gray. “You gotta clap off the game,” says her husband, a Vegas blackjack dealer. She tries it as a ritual gesture: clap, clap, as though dusting off desert sand. But it gets harder and harder for her to shake her job’s soul-rotting mix of ignoble force and ennui.

The extraordinary Hannah Cabell plays this woman—call her Pontius Pilot—with all the necessary toughness, nourished by deep reserves of feeling. Directed with exquisite control by Ken Rus Schmoll, she holds us rapt as she navigates the growing tumult of Brant’s sharp-eyed, timely script. Grounded lets no one off easy; it forces the audience into a greater awareness of our own complicity in America’s drifts. Clap all you want at the end of the play—and you’ll want to clap a lot—but the game stays with you.—Theater review by Adam Feldman

THE BOTTOM LINE Cabell flies high and hits all targets.

Follow Adam Feldman on Twitter: @FeldmanAdam

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