In the Public Theatre’s Grounded, the spectacularly designed and directed one woman play, Anne Hathaway stars as a fierce and care free fighter pilot who gets grounded because of an unexpected pregnancy and an even more surprisingly loving relationship. She returns to the Air Force after pregnancy leave, only to find herself assigned to piloting drones from a control room outside of Vegas, an assignment she desperately yet unsuccessfully, tries to get out of.
Anne Hathaway is spot on terrific in the part; arrogant, strong, forceful and determined to get back into the Blue. She covets the freedom, the adrenalin, and the excitement of flying solo in the sky, but is forced to give that up and be part of a team at the base, and more importantly, part of a family at home.
This transition slowly, sometimes too slowly if you ask me, causes her to lose her grip on reality, or possibly get a better grip on the reality of the war, her role in bringing death to the enemy, and also her impact on humanity. Anne does a perfect job in the part, but the real star is Julie Taymor’s beautiful production and projection design. They have taken a square stage of white sand and a reflective back wall, and created with the use of moving and still projections, a world of wonder and tension, but also of boredom and stagnant domesticity. I wonder if the play has been lifted up from mediocrity by the acting skills of Anne, but more importantly, by the artistic vision of Julie Taymor. Without that and her talented design team, this play might have been grounded, but now it soars.