ACTOR GRINDS OUT TOP SOLO PERFORMANCE
LIBBY Munro must have been sweating bullets going into the
opening night of Grounded.
The one-woman show is a tour de force for any performer, but Munro had a particular weight sitting on her shoulders.
In Venus in Fur, her debut for Queensland Theatre Company in 2013, she blew the audience away and her powerful performance is still fresh in many people’s minds.
In Grounded she not only needed to achieve that level, but exceed it.
Audiences, and Munro herself, will be pleased to know she did.
Grounded follows a female fighter pilot who, after a torrid love affair, falls pregnant and can no longer fly.
The pregnancy grounds her, unable to fly because if she needed to eject, the force would kill her unborn child.
By the time she is ready to return to work, warfare has changed and she is no longer required to go up into her beloved blue sky, but she sits in an airconditioned caravan bombing insurgents from the Nevada desert through remotely operated drones.
But warfare isn’t the only thing that has changed, the pilot herself has changed profoundly since becoming a mother.
Munro is simply extraordinary in the role.
She spends the entire 75 minutes alone in the space with barely a prop to help her.
She demands the audience’s attention from the moment they enter the theatre, her barely dressed figure prone on the floor, and she doesn’t let go until she exits.
The character arc her unnamed pilot goes through is fascinating – from arrogant and bullish to broken and torn at the end and the subtlety with which Munro attacks each moment is a beautiful thing to watch.
In the hands of Andrea Moor, who also directed Munro in Venus in Fur, the piece has a surprisingly nurturing feeling that one doesn’t expect from a piece exploring subjects of war and post-traumatic stress.
Moor has once again proved to be a masterful director of strong and interesting female characters.
Design, in the hands of Georgina Greenhill on set, Tony Brumpton on sound and Ben Hughes on lighting, is particularly strong in this piece.
The set fills the tiny Diane Cilento Studio space and the lighting transitions the audience expertly through the piece without them noticing.
Brumpton’s sound design is particularly powerful.
In all, Grounded is an extremely topical piece of theatre that is given a brilliant treatment in the hands of this particular team of experts.
Munro once again proves to be one of Queensland’s strongest performers, and Moor has another notch to her belt.