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A CurtainUp London Review
Contained in a box lined with gauze and screened from us, Lucy Ellinson is dressed in Air Force uniform and is wearing a parachute harness. She starts her story with a description of flying "in the blue" before concentrating on domestic issues as to how she met her husband Eric and settled in a house in another desert within commuting distance of Las Vegas.
Finding herself pregnant with a pink pregnancy test, remember this girl does blue, she realizes that this will be the pilot's nightmare, to be "grounded". She compares herself to a whale but Eric is delighted and moves in. On leave she keeps a neat house for the three of them, herself, Eric and the new arrival a daughter.
The next step up from being "grounded"is a job at the base in what she describes as "The Chair Force". This is sitting at a computer flying drones, remote control aircraft capable of detecting and destroying enemy insurgents without loss of pilot life. We explore with her the training, learning to fly, "with our arses safely on the ground" on a never ending mission.
She talks about the grey, the screen she watches for activity as she hunts for the second in command, the Number 2 in the desert. Then something different happens as she closes in with the drone, her own life not in danger, she can only concentrate on the target in the Afghanistan desert. Whether she has changed because of the way she now works or whether being a mother has changed her, we do not know, but things are different and her experience is distressing.
Lucy Ellinson gives a remarkable performance as someone caught in the grip of war and makes this 65 minutes of drama thrilling and traumatic. Christopher Haydon's direction and Mark Howland's lighting add tension to this anti-war polemic.
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
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