George Brant’s mesmerizing one-woman play asks vital questions about the psychological price paid by those who go to war, with a twist.

In this 2012 play, a female flying ace is grounded from her job in the sky when she becomes pregnant. The drama, which is in its Cleveland area-produced premiere at Dobama Theatre in Cleveland Heights, explores the difficulties soldiers experience returning to civilian life.

But the supreme irony of Grounded is that this female pilot, who’s reassigned to operate a military drone in the desert outside Las Vegas, must fight a faraway war by day and readjust to civilian life every night, when she goes home to her family.

It’s a fascinating paradox that Brant presents, and one that actress Anjanette Hall thoroughly inhabits from the moment she walks onto Dobama’s three-quarter thrust stage. Hall, a tiny but fierce figure wearing an ever-present Air Force flight suit, commands the stage as the swaggering, cocky pilot whose life changes dramatically.

Her pilot is deeply passionate about “the blue,’’ the skies that she so poetically speaks about. This pilot is rightfully proud of the flight suit she has earned: “This was who I was now, who I’d become through sweat and brains and guts.’’

She’s a tough woman who spouts out the F-bomb with gusto in a play that has its fair but believable share of rough language. Directed by New York-based Alice Reagan, the bravado that Hall’s pilot displays contains just the right dose of humor.

But Hall’s pilot also shows her soft side once she finally loves completely: She meets her soulmate, the first love interest who understands her and isn’t intimidated by her strength.

It’s a testament to Hall’s acting acumen that the tension continuously builds during this 90-minute play, performed without intermission. Sitting in a windowless trailer in the U.S. desert, at first the pilot is celebratory and proud that she has taken out human targets in another desert half a world away.

Tesia Dugan Benson’s abstract set features a large, gray metal curved piece and crisscrossing ramps that make one think of a partially buried plane. The backdrop features varying heights of what looks like corrugated metal.

Brant’s play, his most successful to date, has seen more than 100 productions around the world. It won the 2012 Smith Prize for works about American politics for questioning how advances in technology affect the psychology of men and women in the armed forces.

The play asks if American soldiers who are safe at home fighting targets thousands of miles away are dehumanizing the enemy. But in the case of this female pilot, operating a drone from home, can the human consequences of war actually become more real?

As a fighter pilot in Iraq, she was gone by the time her missiles hit their targets. But as she operates a drone on a computer screen, with her targets presumably in Afghanistan or Pakistan, she begins to see the human carnage she has caused with just a 1.2-second delay on a gray screen.

As the pressure to track a high-profile terrorist mounts, this pilot begins to unravel. She sees a gray screen in everything, and pictures herself in the eye of a drone.

As her obsession and even paranoia increase, eerie, hellacious sound effects accompany her unraveling. The results are both frightening and fascinating.

Those who missed Cleveland Play House’s presentation of New York theater Page 73’s production of this hit in 2014, and even those who didn’t, will find this production of Grounded both gripping and timely. It leaves images of Hall’s fierceness, and vulnerability, seared in the brain.

Arts writer Kerry Clawson may be reached at 330-996-3527 or Follow her at @KerryClawsonABJ or