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In the Body of the World

From 37 critic and 139 member reviews
Members say: Absorbing, Intense, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Profound

About the show

The Tony Award-winning author, performer, and activist Eve Ensler ('The Vagina Monologues') comes to MTC with a powerful new solo-play based on her critically acclaimed memoir. More…

While working with women suffering from the ravages of war in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ensler was stunned by a life-threatening diagnosis. Told with her signature brand of humor, Ensler’s personal journey uncovers surprising connections between her body and the earth and how illness can be both transformative and transcendent. Directed by Tony Award winner Diane Paulus.

Broadway Blog

"Ensler's new one-woman play that uses her diagnosis, treatment, and recovery as a framework to explore her connection to the world...Ensler does have a brilliant wit, an unflinching determination to stand up for humanitarian causes, a terrific sense of humor, a gift for the dramatic, and the ability to command an audience...Ensler knows how to craft a story...A physical culmination of Ensler's emotionally charged journey within and beyond the confines of her own body." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"A one-woman show that blows through like a tsunami. And what a wondrous storm it is!...Ensler has expanded and deepened the themes of her seminal work, speaking with a fierce focus and a renewed purpose...Paulus delivers a production that brilliantly illuminates the landscape of this visionary work...Ensler is among the rare, gifted monologue artists who are able make those deep connections between the personal and the political...connections that bring hope for change in the world." Full Review

New York Theater

"Eye-opening, entertaining, and one of the most satisfying works of theater so far this year. With humor and passion and jaw-dropping candor, Eve Ensler riffs and rants (about various injustices), rhapsodizes (about trees) and rages (about uncaring doctors, about her parents, about…many things) – and in the process reveals Eve Ensler, take her or leave her...Director Diane Paulus pulls out all the stops, in what could be a lesson in how to turn a monologue into a full-fledged play." Full Review


“Ensler adapted her harrowing, revelatory 2013 memoir into an equally harrowing, revelatory play…Paulus has drawn an astonishing, and astonishingly anti-maudlin performance from Ensler…Some of it is blessedly hilarious. Most of it isn’t. And yet ‘In the Body of the World’ is tough love, harsh medicine, a tonic...I came out rattled as I have rarely been rattled by any theater experience, devastated and blissful at the same improbable time.” Full Review

Woman Around Town

"Ensler hastens to show she’s struggling, fallible, one of us...One can only admire the example she sets...The show includes grim details, but is pointedly not a deluge of suffering. Extremely deft, Ensler weaves humor through her story like a couturier...Both powerful and entertaining; beautifully written in fluid vignettes and marvelously acted. One forgets Eve Ensler is also a highly skilled performer...Gestures can shock or amuse. Manipulation is invisible. Pacing is perfect." Full Review


“Ensler keeps the play afloat with her frankness and humor, even when she unabashedly displays her wounds and describes parts of her body removed or mangled. We accompany her to New York City where she first tries Memorial Sloan Kettering, but settles on Beth Israel, where her doctor treats her like a real, living, breathing person. She rallies in a room with the view of a tree. Images of the tree and rallies of brave women in the Congo illuminate her experiences.” Full Review


“Ensler’s frank vulnerability and synthesis of the personal and political reaches thrilling new heights in director Diane Paulus’ striking production…Among the play’s most impressive qualities is Ensler’s ability to draw such symbolic parallels between her own illness and the ills of the world in such a way that illuminates both without distortions of scale...A gifted and natural storyteller…Ensler has rarely seemed more exhilarated or full of life — just when we need her most.” Full Review


"Eve Ensler’s riveting solo show...It rarely feels self-indulgent; the play is less an act of catharsis or even bragging than a continuation of Ensler’s two decades of activist work...Directed with enormous grace by the great Diane Paulus...This is a more traditional monologue. But it's never boring. Ensler is a master keeping an audience engaged, whether through passion or self-deprecation. Above all, there is an unmistakable air of honesty throughout." Full Review

Theater Life

"Ensler weaves the narrative of her medical issues with world issues...At times, the parallels are a tad heavy-handed, but the author-performer quickly balances self-deprecating humor and cutting observations with her social commentary...Paulus’ measured direction seamlessly guides us through Ensler’s multi-stage journey of horror and triumph...Ensler is a passionate advocate, sprightly comedienne, and friendly host...It’s an intense, inspiring encounter." Full Review


"An intimate, shocking and touching tale...A bold, political work that is as personal and global as her signature work...Ensler connects the cancerous attack on her body with those women suffering from afar...Ensler presents it in a thoughtfully laid-out narrative quilt, made up of engaging frankness, measured sentiment, and disarming humor...It’s her knack of mixing the serious with the flip that keeps the air charged with sudden surprises and unexpected richness." Full Review

This Week in New York Blog

"Ensler’s daring, delightful one-woman show is bursting with the affirmation of life and the celebration of joy...She honestly and often poetically talks about her childhood and her family and relates her cancer to things much bigger than herself...Ensler reexamines her place in the greater world, continually working to teach people to stop sleepwalking through life and start taking responsibility for themselves and others, using this stage as a wake-up call for all of us...Warm and very funny." Full Review

On Stage Blog

"A critical piece of art. It's achingly funny, raw, real, heartbreaking, and healing. The script and Ensler's performance supersedes the production in all senses, but it's hard to stage a solo piece without falling prey to the pitfalls of one-person shows. Director Paulus handle the piece well, but some of the production choices often feel forced or uncomfortable...The most impactful moments are when Ensler is simply, beautifully communing with the audience." Full Review

City Cabaret

"Ensler centers her new play in the core of her body. Political and personal...With precision and snaps of wit, she traces her painful journey...There is no straight road in this solo performance but Ensler is a likable, sharp-talking guide through her excruciating tour through hell. Segments are quick, brash, honest although the numerous metaphors can be tiresome...Ensler lightens her visions with black humor, and the journey with her is depressing, to be sure, but worth the visit." Full Review


"In her emotionally uplifting new solo work, it is both body and soul that are placed center stage...Particularly poignant is the way she describes Rochester, Minnesota as a cancer town...While Ensler's story is a unique one, what is thoroughly relatable is her demonstration of the charitable side of humanity, and the downplaying of one's own suffering in order to use your experience to ease the pain of others." Full Review


"Ensler doesn't soft pedal her trajectory from diagnosis through treatment, and some scenes detailing her own and the Congolese women's experiences are too painfully graphic...Under Diane Paulus's direction, this isn't one of those solo shows with a narrator sitting on a chair with no or minimal props, but one of the most theatrically effective examples of this genre…Ensler has aptly made her personal story tie in with global issues, so her humor is at its best when topical.” Full Review

Wolf Entertainment Guide

“A bold and brave solo performance…Ensler has dug deeply into her personal experiences...There is a stretch in trying to tie the personal problem of her cancer with world problems...The link is the basis of her play, and one has to make the leap with her in order to appreciate her concept...Yet the passion in Ensler’s performance glows with sincerity and dynamism…It takes talent and excellent direction to hold one’s attention, which Ensler mostly does.” Full Review


"The powerful and ultimately uplifting stage version of Ensler's memoir...Paulus allows a little self-indulgence to creep in, but who could blame her? Ensler does not falter, sparing none of the gritty, gruesome details, even as she tries to inject some humor into her own personal horror story...Ensler makes sure we feel, at times intensely, the presence of so many others...Throughout all of this, amazingly, Ensler never loses touch with what was happening in the Congo." Full Review

Theatre is Easy

"Frank, fierce, and surprisingly funny...Although it is not for the squeamish, it is both inspiring and savvy...The script takes great pains to veer away from self-blame or pat conclusions. Instead, since there can be no definitive answers, Ensler zeroes in on activism as cure...It’s an empowering example of the necessary balance between self-care and care of others...Ensler’s triumphant recovery and return to writing, acting, and advocacy leaves us feeling buoyant and uplifted." Full Review

Entertainment Weekly

"Ensler is smart, funny, mostly fearless, empathetic - an engaging if sometimes tangent-plagued raconteur...Parts of 'In the Body of the World' are hard to hear...With a piece this intimately personal and politically significant, it feels churlish to take Ensler to task for stylistic shortcomings. Yes, the show is a mishmash of worthy concerns. But Paulus is comfortable with chaos, and helpfully reigns in the tangents, presenting each segment in a well-defined space." Full Review


"Delivered with wry self-awareness and brutal humor...A raw, deeply personal and powerful account of how Ensler found her connection to the body of the world...She can be strident and brutal and confrontational. But she is also funny and self-deprecating...Paulus keeps the pace lively and provides a forward movement to Ensler's monologue, preventing it from becoming a TED Talk...The play is at its very best when it exists in her real world instead of the metaphorical one." Full Review

Front Row Center

"Bearing her scars, figuratively and literally, Ensler explores how the disease, and its poisonous treatments, violated her body...Ensler entwines these observations with the stories she heard in her trips to the Democratic Republic of Congo...So compelling is this cancer-Congo-nature triangle, the show sinks a little whenever Ensler steps outside of it. She cannot help but throw some political barbs, but her tribulations make even Trump seem inconsequential." Full Review

Theatre's Leiter Side

“Ensler, disarmingly forthright…uses powerfully descriptive words…The pixyish, youthful-looking…Ensler has had quite a life, and you'll find out a lot about it in her…scary, funny, informative, moving, occasionally grisly, but scattershot docudrama…whose centerpiece is her battle with uterine cancer…It's understandable that Ensler would want to introduce some welcome wisecracks into the horrors…but is it really necessary for us to be asked to rise so we can dance during a hospital room party?” Full Review

New York Daily News

"Ensler doesn't tiptoe around a topic. She doesn't mince words. That unblinking, even brutal, bluntness is a strength in her solo play...Humor is another plus...She's not shy about revealing her scars - physical and psychic. It makes for anguished howl of a play...It's also a show that can meander and turn indulgent, even for a memoir...Directed with sensitivity by Paulus and enhanced by vivid projections, the play reminds that connection can arrive when and where it’s least expected." Full Review


"Ensler's acerbic humor is one thing you get a feel for during her solo piece...Aside from a quick wit, Ensler proves her talent for building subtle emotional dynamics that give us the opportunity to laugh, not in spite of empathy, but because of it...When her body is engaged with the story, so is her audience. She's a warm, charming, grounded narrator...Like a mirror image of her own life, the story is choppy and off-roads more often than it stays any particular course." Full Review


"Her latest monologue, "In the Body of the World,' is metaphorically all over the map. It's fueled by a manic energy and stuffed with a myriad of issues...At times, it feels like performance-art-as-therapy in stream of consciousness fashion as she tries to come to terms with her illness and dysfunctional family...Peppering even the worst moments with pointed humor...Paulus's direction is a huge plus, tying together the disparate elements with clarity and sensitivity." Full Review

Absorbing, Relevant, Thought-provoking

See it if You need more info on the plight of women

Don't see it if The reality of the world frightens you

Intense, Thought-provoking, Profound, Must see, Great writing

See it if you loved the vagina monologues and want to see a master in the art of one person show.

Don't see it if you're pregnant or very sensitive to graphic descriptions of what happens to victims in war zones

Also Ensler talks about cancer, life, death and everything in between in a ... Read more Read less

Extraordinary, excruciatingly demanding, inspiring

See it if you are brave, willing to be emotionally challenged, ready to laugh and cry, unafraid of hard truths, open to unsettling revelations

Don't see it if you want an easy night in the theatre that won't give you nightmares and make you count your blessings.

Also I knew it would be brutal. I knew it would touch me personally as a su... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Great acting, Great staging, Masterful, Profound

See it if You like dramatic theatre

Don't see it if Your not interested in women’s issues

Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Intelligent, Masterful

See it if The work is powerful, finely crafted and is a painful journey of her health and the creation and life in The City Of Hope.

Don't see it if If topics of cancer and the disturction of woeman body’s thue rape and the sadness to know that the UN in the Congo is beyond corrupt .

Also I had the opportunity to read the script before. And as hard as the ma... Read more Read less

Great acting, Great writing, Intelligent, Masterful, Intense

See it if Eve Ensler is beyond fantastic. I saw the first preview and it knocked my socks off. I hung on her every word and did not want show to end

Don't see it if You have no heart. You do not like one woman shows. You do not like thinking about what life and death really are.

Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting, Profound, Relevant

See it if You can tolerate an honest one woman show. Exposes her views of life, illness, Mayo Clinic, Sloan Kettering and cancer business.

Don't see it if You are pro establishment and do not want to hear another person's vocal opinion on many subjects.

Also Full house on a cold, rainy night. Not a head turned for the entire 80... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Relevant

See it if you enjoyed The Vagina Monologues. See it if you have ever had cancer. See it if you can relate to topical stories told by one person.

Don't see it if nudity, atrocities, or cancer bothers you. About 95% of the show was excellent. A bit here and there could have used some rewrite.

Also But the humor in the show relieved the audience of some of the horror ... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Clever, Great acting, Edgy, Thought-provoking

See it if you're an Ensler fan, interested in fighting cancer and improving lives of young women in Africa, like 1-person shows & visual surprises

Don't see it if not interested in 1-person shows or author's experience fighting cancer or working with young girls in Africa, brief female nudity

Also Ensler has a powerful story to tell, probably one not possible without... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Funny, Great acting, Great staging, Profound

See it if you want to experience a viscerally expressed piece about the vital connection between our bodies and this planet, & the need to heal both.

Don't see it if you can’t stomach painful details of atrocity and illness.

Absorbing, Profound, Emotional

See it if Loved it! 80 minutes took me deep in... time past so quick. Eve is a great performer with a knack for storytelling that sucks you in

Don't see it if You love Trump or aren't into stories about making a difference, mothers and cancer.

Clever, Delightful, Funny, Entertaining, Must see

See it if you like clever comedy and drama in one play. Eve was excellent. A Must See.

Don't see it if You don't like Jewish humor.

Absorbing, Clever, Great writing, Intense, Resonant

See it if you want a master class in how to turn vulnerability and fear into art that can change the world

Don't see it if you are triggered by rape and cancer - though sometimes hearing others' stories can be healing.

Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Masterful, Hilarious

See it if you enjoyed the V Monologues; if you enjoy a hillarious, touching, thought-provoking one woman show that deals with healing body and soul.

Don't see it if you don't appreciate one person shows or ones centered in women's empowerment. It may be too racy for younger audiences.

Absorbing, Ambitious, Relevant, Resonant, Thought-provoking

See it if You are a fan of the Vagina Monologues or invested in #metoo and times up. Great piece- engaging and cathartic. Ensler is wonderful.

Don't see it if You don’t like to hear about violence against women, rape, cancer. This show is anything but fluff.

Ambitious, Edgy, Dizzying, Intense, Profound

See it if good god i was not prepared for this. eve ensler is truly a living icon who should be celebrated. her work on this piece is extraordinary!

Don't see it if it's a tough sell: a one-woman show about rape and torture in the congo + ovarian cancer. definitely not for the faint of heart.

Also i mainly went to see this show for nostalgic reasons; the vagina monol... Read more Read less

Clever, Absorbing, Great acting

See it if you want to be entertained.

Don't see it if you don't like solo shows.

Absorbing, Exquisite, Great acting, Profound, Intense

See it if You like highly engaging one-person shows that are intelligent, intense, poignant and dramatically compelling.

Don't see it if If you don't like intense theater that can be uncomfortable because of the subject matter of cancer.

Absorbing, Intelligent, Intense, Masterful, Must see

See it if You are a feminist. You like socially engaged theater. You liked the Vagina Monologues. You are interested in how people deal with cancer

Don't see it if You hate hospitals. You are easily upset by hearing about atrocities even. My companion got so upset she had to leave the theater early.

Eye-opening, Profound, Present, Engrossing, Surreal

See it if you're interested in stories of cancer survivors, rape survivors, and talk of reconnecting to the earth and our bodies.

Don't see it if you're not a fan of frank discussions about our bodies.

Absorbing, Intense, Profound, Relevant, Resonant

See it if you want to be totally absorbed in one woman's story of a fascinating life journey to find herself after an intense fight for her life.

Don't see it if you can't handle upsetting topics like cancer, genocide, abuse, and humankind's rape of the earth. Despite this, the show is not depressing!

Intense, Great writing, Epic

See it if Amazing story, heartbreaking but inspirational. Theater is small and any seat is wonderful.

Don't see it if if you don't like one man show

Also Had an honor to meet Mama C in person after show cause it was one of t... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Entertaining, Funny, Profound, Must see

See it if You want to see a well done play that follows one woman through her battle while helping other women witth theirs. Funny, must see!!

Don't see it if If you dont like one woman shows, or don't want to hear about real life womens health issues.

Ambitious, Absorbing, Clever, Great writing, Intelligent

See it if You don’t mind nudity. One woman show. Ups and downs in emotions

Don't see it if You mind nudity. You don’t like one person monologues. You are Squeamish about illness

Intense, Relevant, Funny, Moving, Disturbing

See it if Woman devoted to helping Congolese rape and torture survivors gets stage IV cancer. Harrowing yet hopeful. Powerful delivery and staging.

Don't see it if You don’t want to confront real horrors both far away and nearer to home. Stark descriptions of bodily mutilation.

Cast & Creatives (9)