Review “Grounded” (American Blues Theater): Whiteside’s Tour de Force


Grounded-window-vinyl-300x201American Blues Theater presents the Chicago premiere of GROUNDED.

A fighter pilot goes from Air Force to ‘chair force‘ in nine months.  Playwright George Brandt pens the woes of war from a mother’s perspective.  Gwendolyn Whiteside plays a daredevil pilot turned loving wife and mother.   Whiteside leaves the war to have a baby.  When she returns to active duty, her assignment takes her out of the blue sky and into an air conditioned trailer in Vegas.  She hunts down terrorists by day and returns to suburb life by night.  Brandt’s story gives a powerful glimpse into the disturbing and secret life of drone pilots. GROUNDED soars.       

Under the masterful direction of Lisa Portes, Whiteside is a one-woman tour de force.  Her storytelling skills are so perfectly descriptive that I see and feel everything.  I picture her drinking with her crew.  I see her playing ponies with her daughter.  I feel the connection and disconnection between her and her husband.  My anxiety elevates right alongside Whiteside.  She is on a mission to find and destroy and we are right there with her.   Whiteside is transfixing as she unravels from haughty to erratic.  She goes from eye-rolling smug to gut-punching pitiable. 

The underlying message of GROUNDED is unforgettable.  Whiteside continually refers to it.  During battles, soldiers aren’t supposed to go home for dinner. They go out with their buddies drinking.  They stay in the role.  They remain in the war zone.  Whiteside heart-wrenchingly confronts the downside of a clock-punching warrior.  She poignantly struggles with her daily duties on the battleground and on the homefront.      

This show is intense. We are passengers in Whiteside’s drone.  We helplessly watch as   she flies into enemy territories in both Afghanistan and Nevada.

Running Time:  Eighty-five minutes with no intermission

At Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln

Written by George Brandt

Directed by Lisa Portes

Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays at 7:30pm

Sundays at 2:30pm

Thru July 13th 

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