Published on August 20th, 2015


Two years ago Libby Munro set QTC alight with her part in David Ives’ Venus In Fur. ‘Set alight’ isn’t some naff metaphor. Literally, if the actress had turned it up another degree the building was in danger of catching fire. Andrea Moor directed that production and the pair have joined forces again for the George Brant penned, Grounded.

This time around Munro plays the USAF pilot, who we only ever know as ‘The Pilot’. It’s a one woman show. There’s 70 minutes of dialogue. You won’t miss a word. The Diane Cilento Studio is a small theatre and holds around 70 people – and Munro is captivating. The set is sparse: designed for minimalist impact by Georgina Greenhill and beautifully lit by Ben Hughes.  The show begins with Munro as ‘The Pilot’ waking up from what appears to be a bad dream. She pulls on her flight suit and starts a dialogue that runs an emotional gamut detailing everything from exhilaration to despair.

Brant has crafted the piece well. ‘The Pilot’ talks about the “blue” and the buzz of flying a fighter plane into combat. When it’s time to take a break from the war on terror,  she talks about heading Stateside and what kind of moves a civilian has to bust to get anywhere near this female officer in a crowded bar. ‘The Pilot’ is perversely full of life, even though she makes a living ending the lives of others. ‘The Pilot’ likes to fly, she likes to drink and she likes to fuck.

When that man in the bar finally makes his move, the fucking comes first and then there’s a tingle of love… but that follows later. Early on, ‘The Pilot’s’ only love is the vast blue sky. She returns to the war zone and leaves Eric behind. The pair Skype, she feels nausea and then realises she is pregnant. Eric is besotted and a new euphoria ensues. But, It’s not the same as the lure of the “blue”, but it’s powerful all the same … a baby girl is born, Sam.

The dialogue is peppered with asides to popular culture and Brant draws you further into the nuance of ‘The Pilot’s’ world with asides about pick up trucks, the Luxor Hotel, AC/DC on the stereo and references to Neil Diamond.

The pang of what Maverick called ‘The need for speed’ is always there and ‘The Pilot’ returns to the UASF and finds herself relegated to the ‘chair force’. She’ll be ‘flying’ drones from a secure base in the desert over targets thousands of miles away. She becomes obsessed with her video monitor and feels a white knuckle rush, followed by high-fives all round, when she takes out the enemy.

Munro keeps us spellbound throughout, That seventy-minutes goes by in what feels like fifteen. Munro has a rare gift for nuance. Her performance is pitch perfect. She’s hypnotic to watch and displays a stunning range. The last time I felt this way was watching Matt Hayden bat for Queensland. He wasn’t going to be playing for Queensland for long. Bigger arenas beckoned. There’s that same sense of destiny about Munro, who impresses here and is destined for bigger things.


Sean Sennett

Grounded plays at QTC’s The Greenhouse until August 22.