George Brant’s play Grounded centres on a female fighter pilot who — upon starting a family — is reassigned to piloting drones above the Middle East, killing enemy targets from thousands of miles away in Nevada. Overcoming the inevitable ‘talkiness’ of the monologue format, director Selina Cartmell and actor Clare Dunne inject plenty of dynamism, with Dunne repeatedly racing up and down runway stage, often to the accompaniment of AC/DC.
The story is absorbing and Brant’s imagery — while not subtle — is nevertheless engaging, as when he uses colour to convey the character’s experience of freedom, gender, and ethics. But the play’s gradual lurch toward a corny, sanctimonious crescendo boxes it all up too cosily, despite Dunne’s wonderful performance.
It Folds 3/5
It Folds is a co-production by Brokentalkers and Junk Ensemble, two companies with a flair for the visual. Unsurprisingly, the show is full of intriguingly comic and surreal images. Though there is little dialogue, the esoteric visuals onstage centre on mortality, the destructive love that often informs family relationships, and even darker themes still.
Thankfully, it leavens the grimness with a comic style that, while black, is charismatic and sincere. The show’s most unforgettable scene is one in which a band of fathers — communicating only in zombie groans — visit the graves of their dead children.
Medicated Milk 4/5
A film by José Miguel Jiménez, Medicated Milk focuses on the grim story of Lucia Joyce — daughter to James — who spent most of her adult life in psychiatric care. Jiménez employs a fluid style that is often literally fluid — there are many strange and startling underwater shots — and neatly intercuts the story of Lucia with that of the performer standing in for her, dancer Áine Stapleton.
It’s a provocative experimental film that might have benefited from more images of Stapleton dancing — or perhaps from a live component in the space itself.
Nevertheless, it very poignantly gets across Lucia Joyce’s life-story, while retaining an appropriate note of ambiguity.
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