THE ENTIRETY OF The American Pilot takes place in a shed. The shed is in a small village in an unnamed country that's in the midst of a guerilla struggle, a struggle that America must have some interest in, because an American pilot (Mario Calcagno) has just fallen from the sky.
At least, the villagers assume the pilot must be there for a reason—Americans don't do anything by accident, right? The pilot insists he's simply lost, but it doesn't help his case that the only translator in town (Andy Lee-Hillstrom) has an agenda of his own, muddying the pilot's attempts to explain himself. (One of the most interesting decisions made by playwright David Greig is that within the world of the play, the characters are speaking different languages and cannot understand each other—but the audience can understand both sides of the conversation.) And as a reluctant middleman between village higher-ups and the pilot, Gary Norman injects real heart into his portrayal of a villager who earnestly wants to do right by his family, his village, and the wounded American who's suddenly living in his shed.
The American Pilot is a portrait of American hubris, and of a clumsy superpower that values the lives of its own citizens above the lives of the people living in, say, a small, wartorn village that most Americans don't even know the name of. Theatre Vertigo's solid production is undercut only slightly by the show's ending—a Rushmore-evoking climax that clunkily reiterates a point about American exceptionalism that the show has already quite handily made.