Review: ‘Grounded’ at InterAct Theatre Company in Philadelphia

InterAct’s Grounded, directed by Kathryn MacMillan, follows the journey of an Alpha-female military pilot (Kittson O’Neill) who grapples with a multitude of difficulties and decisions revolving around family and career, hunter, and prey, life and death. Though I was in unfamiliar territory of parenting, military, and drones, I was hooked and connected within the first minute of the play.

Kittson O'Neill as The Pilot.
Kittson O’Neill as The Pilot. Photo by Kate Raines.

The most poignant moment actually occurred near the story’s inception, when the pilot describes how self-conscious she was in front of the man who’d become her lover. And yet he is enamored by her. I’ve felt that kind of vulnerability before, and to have a friend, relative, or lover adore me unconditionally is one of the most powerful gifts that life has to offer.

While George Brant’s story did get a tad muddled and redundant for me in the middle, MacMillan’s excellent direction and blocking drew me into the humor, tension, joy, and torment of the pilot’s psyche. I was enthralled by the teamwork of Masha Tsimring’s lighting and Nick Embree’s scenic design. The set is abstract, almost like a shell of a tent one would see at a military camp, or perhaps a cocoon of the pilot’s world. When lit, I was transported from the Vegas Skyline, to a dismal gray trailer, to the enchanting blue in the lower echelons of the stratosphere.

Kittson O'Neill as The Pilot. Photo by Kate Raines.
Kittson O’Neill as The Pilot. Photo by Kate Raines.

The motif of that deep blue is vividly described by O’Neill throughout the production. I was enraptured by her performance. Her emotional range was impeccable, from the true glimmer I saw in her eyes to the rage sizzling on the contours of her face.

There was one moveable chair, no props, no costume changes, no set changes, no entrances, exits or black outs until the end.

InterAct’s Grounded is great theater in its rawest form, and is as exquisite as the sky above.

Running Time: 80 minutes, with no intermission.

Grounded plays through October 23, 2016 at InterAct Theatre Company, performing at The Drake – 302 South Hicks Street, in Philadelphia, PA. For tickets, call the box office at (215) 568-8079, or purchase them online.

Limited “INTER-HALF” half-price tickets are available purchased same day, and in-person, at the box office (credit card fees apply).


Lucy Ellinson (The Pilot). Photo by Igor Dmitry.
Lucy Ellinson (The Pilot). Photo by Igor Dmitry.

‘Grounded’ at The Studio Theatre by Robert Michael Oliver.

Magic Time! ‘Grounded’ at The Studio Theatre by John Stoltenberg.

Megan Anderson. Photo by ClintonBPhotography.
Megan Anderson. Photo by ClintonBPhotography.

‘Grounded’ at Olney Theatre Center by Bev Fleisher.

‘Grounded’ at Everyman Theatre by Gina Jun.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here