Sunday, 17 May 2015

Anne Hathaway in George Brant's GROUNDED directed by Julie Taymor at the Public Theatre

     I'm afraid I was fighting dozing off during this one.
     The play is basically an idea for a Lifetime Television Movie turned into a 90 minute monologue. "The Pilot" is a dedicated fighter pilot who likes nothing more that flying in "The Blue" and setting off her sidewinder missiles. When she goes home for R&R, she has a three day fling with a young man who works in his father's hardware store and is turned on by the sight of her in uniform. When she returns to work she discovers that she is pregnant. The young man, who seems too good to be true, weeps for joy. They get married and she is reassigned to sitting in a van in the Nevada desert operating drones that are flying over the Middle East. She adores her husband and daughter, but finds the work so tedious that it wears her down. When she is given the kill order to send a missile from a drone toward the number two man in Al Quaeda, she sees that he is holding his young daughter as the missile comes toward him. She is devastated by killing an innocent child who is her daughter's age. The play offers a rather sentimental view of geopolitics, to put it mildly, and "The Pilot" isn't a very interesting character to hold an audience for ninety minutes.
     Anne Hathaway has chosen to give "The Pilot" the kind of flat intonation one often hears when female military officers speak on radio or television. I'd like to thinks this was a choice rather than Hathaway's own limitations as an actress. However hard she tries to give the part physicality, one is left with a monotonous sound for a long monologue. Julie Taymor is basically a decorative rather than an interpretive director. She can give a show a look and effects, but she's not good at giving a show a mind or a heart. She's given GROUNDED a lot of nice and a fair number of computer effects and falling sand, but I would rather have had an actress on a bare stage who really brought the play to life. That would have taken a different director and a livelier script.
GROUNDED. Public Theatre. May 16, 2015.  

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