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George Brant’s Grounded, Starring Michelle Murray Wells, Deserves Much Larger Audiences

GroundedPHOTO5-SonorousRoadProductions2015

Sonorous Road Productions, resident company at Sonorous Road Theatre at 209 Oberlin Rd. in Raleigh, is the creation of Michelle Murray Wells, a Meredith College graduate who took her Master at Arts at Emerson College in Boston, MA. She opened the theater in August, offering classes in theater acting, film acting, and production for both children and adults, and high school classes for home schooled students. Their first production, the play Belleville by Amy Herzog, went up in October.

Their second offering, George Brant’s Grounded, is an examination of problems created when the fighting of wars become so removed from the battlefield that there is no sense of contact with the enemy — when there’s not much difference between combat and a child’s video game, the only difference being that someone really dies in an actual battle. It may be great fun for kids learning about hand-eye coordination and interpersonal competition; but in reality, it makes war altogether too attractive to those who don’t have to have “skin in the game.”

Grounded tells the story of one woman (the only character), an Air Force F-16 pilot, who becomes pregnant, and is taken off combat duty to fly Reaper hunter-killer drones from several thousand miles away from the theater of operations. Lack of the after-action “coming down” support available on the front, coupled with being unable to discuss her work with her husband and have sufficient quality time with her daughter, causes the pilot to slowly lose touch with reality. Her conflicts drive a powerful story.

Jerome Davis, stepping away from Burning Coal Theatre for a spell, directed Michelle Wells in this serious-minded play. The production is worthy of much larger audiences than showed up Thursday night; and we hope word of mouth from those present will promote further attendance to this piercing, provocative play which has risen to wide acclaim in its several years of theatergoing awareness.

Wells does need to find more steel in her military demeanor and voice; but as she matures into the role with larger audience, we feel she will get there. Her handling of the sexuality of her character is perfect. Careful, strategic lighting by designer Matthew Adelson and sound by Shelley Snapp create a charged atmosphere on the set — which is a stark blank square — and they provide excellent support to Wells’ acting. The only stage piece is a rolling chair, which Wells uses effectively, and some child’s toy ponies and figurines.

We are glad to see this new theater activity in the area; and wish Wells, whose staff is entirely volunteers, a hearty “Welcome and well done!” We hope to review many more productions of this caliber performed by Sonorous Road Productions.

SECOND OPINION: Dec. 11th Raleigh, NC News & Observer review by Roy C. Dicks: http://www.newsobserver.com/entertainment/arts-culture/article49282425.html; and Dec. 2nd Durham, NC Indy Week mini-preview by Byron Woods: http://www.indyweek.com/indyweek/grounded/Event?oid=4895991. (Note: To read Triangle Arts and Entertainment’s online version of the Dec. 11th Triangle Review review by Pamela Vesper and Kurt Benrud, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2015/12/sonorous-road-productions-presentation-of-grounded-wow-all-we-can-say-is-wow/.)

Sonorous Road Productions presents GROUNDED at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 11 and 12, 2 p.m. Dec. 13, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 18 and 19, and 2 p.m. Dec. 20 at 209 Oberlin Rd., Raleigh, North Carolina 27605.

TICKETS: $22 ($18 students and seniors and $14 active-duty military personnel), including fees.

BOX OFFICE: 919-803-3798 or http://sonorousroad.ticketleap.com/grounded/.

SHOW: http://www.sonorousroad.com/grounded and https://www.facebook.com/events/872461196202005/.

PRESENTER: http://www.sonorousroad.com/, https://www.facebook.com/sonorousroad, and https://twitter.com/sonorousroad.

VENUE: http://www.sonorousroad.com/location-hours/.

DIRECTIONS: https://maps.google.com/.

NOTE: Sonorous Road Productions is donating 100 percent of the profits from Grounded to Military Missions in Action. Click here for details. To donate to MMIA, click here.

OTHER LINKS:

Grounded (2013 one-woman show): http://georgebrant.net/plays.html (official web page) and http://www.samuelfrench.com/p/17376/grounded (Samuel French).

The Script: http://books.google.com/ (Google Books).

George Brant (playwright): http://georgebrant.net/ (official website) and https://twitter.com/GeorgeBrant3 (Twitter page).

Jerome Davis (Raleigh director and co-founder and artistic director of Burning Coal Theatre Company) http://burningcoal.org/jerome-davis/#more-1659 (Burning Coal bio) and https://www.facebook.com/jerome.davis.5686 (Facebook page).

Michelle Murray Wells (Cary actress and founder and artistic director of Sonorous Road Productions) http://www.sonorousroad.com/staff/ (Sonorous Road bio) and https://www.facebook.com/michelle.m.wells.9 (Facebook page).

EDITOR’S NOTE: Martha Keravuori is a life-long theater artist — an actress, director, and stage manager — in North Carolina, around the country, and overseas. She has a theater degree from UNC-Greensboro, and has been active in the arts in Raleigh for the past 40 years. Martha is the retired executive director of the North Carolina Theatre Conference. Chuck Galle returned to Raleigh last year after a 17-year absence. He was active in community theater for many years, and directed the troupe of maximum-security inmates at Raleigh’s Central Prison known as the Central Prison Players. In New England, he performed on stage, on TV, and in films. He is the author of Stories I Never Told My Daughter — An Odyssey, which can be ordered on his website: http://www.chuckgalle.com/. Chuck Galle and Martha Keravuori review theater for Boom! Magazine of Cary. Click here to read more of their reviews for Boom! Magazine and here to read more of their reviews for Triangle Review and Triangle Arts and Entertainment.

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