What happens to the human psyche when soldiering becomes shift work? That’s a question Frank Theatre has returned to in its remounting of George Brant’s “Grounded,” a one-woman show that explores the hidden costs of warfare conducted through drone technology.
Audrey Park assumes the role of the Pilot originally played by Shá Cage in Frank’s critically acclaimed 2014 production. She embodies a gleefully profane and cocky self-assurance at the top of the show, reveling in her love for her F-16 fighter jet and the vastness of what she calls “the blue.”
When life interrupts in the form of pregnancy and marriage, she gamely adapts, trading overseas deployment for a day job as a drone pilot in what she skeptically terms the “Chair Force.” As time goes on, however, the dichotomy of waging war for an 11-hour shift and then going home to play pink ponies with her daughter begins to take a toll.
Wendy Knox’s taut, economical direction and Park’s ferocious focus keep this 85-minute show building inexorably to a chilling denouement. Pacing the stage with coiled energy, Park rigorously details her character’s gradual unraveling, as arrogant joy turns into angry paranoia. It’s a powerful, layered and kinetic performance that compels in its rage and its sorrow.
When: 8 p.m. Thu.-Sat., 2 p.m. Sun.
Where: Perpich Center for the Arts, 6125 Olson Hwy., Golden Valley.
Tickets: $20-$25. 612-724-3760 or franktheatre.org
Lisa Brock is a Twin Cities critic.