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On the Exhale

Members say: Great acting, Absorbing, Relevant, Intense, Thought-provoking
83
Critics
77
13 reviews
Members
84
66 reviews
 

Roundabout Theatre Company presents the world premiere of a provocative one-woman drama exploring one of our country’s most divisive—and urgent—issues: gun violence. Starring Tony nominee Marin Ireland.

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When a senseless act of violence changes her life forever, a liberal college professor finds herself inexplicably drawn to the very weapon used to perpetrate the crime—and to the irresistible feeling of power that comes from holding life and death in her hands. Peering down the barrel of a uniquely American crisis, she begins to suspect that when it comes to gun violence, we’re all part of the problem.

 


Cast & Creatives (8)


Reviews (79)

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
77
Avg Score

75
The New York Times

"As directed with characteristic sensitivity by the ever-busy Leigh Silverman, ‘On the Exhale’ provides a welcome opportunity to see an artist of Ms. Ireland’s caliber take a character through the stages of grief…It’s a brave and bold premise for a play. And if ‘On the Exhale’ never quite fulfills its potential to unsettle, it’s because Mr. Zimmerman’s authorial hand is too much in evidence — meticulously setting up the back story and balancing patterns of imagery." Full Review

45
Theatermania

"Zimmerman's decision to indulge in formal gimmickry keeps the play from ever hitting the bull's-eye...We don't get the sense that the stakes are life-or-death...We are always acutely aware that she is reciting poetry. This problem is compounded by Leigh Silverman's stripped-down production...There are moments of simmering intensity…Sadly, ‘On the Exhale’ always takes a breath and backs off the ledge. The result is a drama that feels safe and unmemorable." Full Review

85
The Hollywood Reporter

"Dealing with the issue of gun violence in America in compelling fashion, ‘On the Exhale’ never feels like it’s preaching to the choir...Maintaining a relentless tension without lapsing into histrionics or melodrama, ‘On the Exhale’ makes its points succinctly and intelligently. Ireland, one of New York theater's most invaluable performers, delivers superb work that is all the more affecting for its carefully calibrated restraint. Silverman’s direction of the piece is similarly understated.” Full Review

60
Time Out New York

"As a moral construct, 'On the Exhale' has weight, but as a play, it falters. Zimmerman is skilled: he shows a cinematic attention to detail and has a clever way of using storytelling techniques to shift focus and keep us disoriented. But ultimately, the characterization rings false...Ireland's thrumming voice makes the short-story-cum-soliloquy slip through our defenses despite its unlikelihoods...It might not be till later that you realize how the text was so wide of its mark." Full Review

90
Lighting & Sound America

"Marin Ireland is armed only with Martín Zimmerman's text and her own formidable talent, but it's enough to leave us thoroughly shaken...I won't swear that, without an actress as fiercely committed as Ireland, 'On the Exhale' might not seem rather melodramatic, but Zimmerman has a poet's touch...The director, Leigh Silverman, keeps a firm hand on the proceedings, never letting the experience become exploitative...It is the most harrowing sixty minutes in New York at the moment." Full Review

90
Front Row Center

“For the first few minutes of this extraordinary play, Marin Ireland rushes through the text and uses some old saws of expression that feel like leftovers from other productions. Luckily this does not last long, and soon Ms. Ireland is not only in full control, she has chosen a direction to take and is unhesitant about leading us to her destination...Where writer Martín Zimmerman and director by Leigh Silverman guide the story has a depth and stunning resonance.” Full Review

60
Talkin' Broadway

"Ireland is superb; she's a fastidiously intelligent actress, and that intelligence, so right for this professor, stands in captivating contrast to the visceral warmth that emerges when she takes life and death quite literally into her own hands...This fusion of acting, direction, and writing is 'On the Exhale' at its best, because it levels out a piece that is otherwise rocky...Well-meaning but well-worn pabulum." Full Review

85
Bob's Theater Blog

"Marin Ireland, one of our most talented stage actors, seems incapable of giving a less than compelling performance...While the acting is impeccable, the material seemed a bit formulaic. During the last 15 minutes, the play took what I felt was a wrong turn that undermined some of its force...Leigh Silverman’s unfussy direction is assured. It’s only an hour long, but it’s a very intense hour." Full Review

90
Broadway & Me

“The mother in ‘On the Exhale’ is played by the brilliant Marin Ireland, who, under Leigh Silverman's delicate direction, has never been better…Ireland so persuasively conveys the mother's grief that there were moments when I literally shook with the sorrow and the rage that having a beloved so savagely ripped away would arouse. It's not that I didn't know intellectually what the horror of such an experience might be but ‘On the Exhale’ made me feel it.” Full Review

90
The Observer

"A remarkable one-hour, one-woman monologue by the enchanting actress Marin Ireland inspired by the heinous school shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. The subject has been explored before, but never with this much emotional power. It’s a one-hour session in electroshock therapy without leaving your seat...'On the Exhale' is a shattering experience in the presence of a cogent, captivating actress who deserves a bigger audience." Full Review

80
Stage Buddy

"This uncomfortable but important topic is made palatable by a wonderful team comprised of actor Marin Ireland, playwright Martín Zimmerman, and director Leigh Silverman, who brilliantly present the nuances of a woman going through something unimaginable...Directed with a light touch by Silverman, 'On The Exhale' has an intimacy that feels more like a therapy session than a play. The drama is there but Ireland doesn’t play it up." Full Review

80
Entertainment Weekly

"Composed in a lucid style by Martín Zimmerman and unobtrusively directed by Leigh Silverman, the material is sometimes too lumbering in convincing us of the professor’s 180-turn towards gun nuttery...But New York stage veteran Ireland gives a characteristically live-wire, throttling performance...There are a few moments during the final stretch of 'On the Exhale' where she turns so unnerving and unpredictable that we don’t know what to expect." Full Review

90
Daily Beast

"Zimmerman’s powerful show about a woman devastated by the most tragic gun violence hits every emotion of fear, tragedy, loss, and revenge. But it never becomes predictable and offers enough twists to keep you constantly riveted...Though the language tries to be detached, Ireland is deeply engaged in every word, motion, and emotion. Ireland is emerging as one of our great character actresses...Ireland is captivating and has all the power she needs—with or without a gun." Full Review

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
84
Avg Score

95
Must see, Profound, Resonant, Riveting, Great writing

See it if you want to be moved by one of the best written/performed solo works I've ever seen! Astonishing all around.

Don't see it if you are looking for a big spectacle. It is extremely intimate and intense.

83
Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Profound

See it if You want to see a very intense monologue about a very current topic ( gun violence in schools )

Don't see it if You don't want re-live recent facts about a massacre of school children

81
Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Relevant

See it if you like one woman shows and Marin Ireland especially, you are interested in explorations of gun tragedies and community reactions

Don't see it if you don't want to be reminded of gun massacres or can't stand one person plays

79
Absorbing, Edgy, Great acting, Intense

See it if you enjoy intense dramas. You want to see a superb performance by Marin Ireland.

Don't see it if you don't enjoy intense dramas. Or if you don't like short plays—this one lasts about one hour.

88
Absorbing, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Great writing

See it if You love one woman shows or if you're interested in the topic of gun violence

Don't see it if The idea of gun violence is triggering to you or if you want a more traditional theatre going experience

38
Dizzying, Quirky, Confusing, Excruciating, Slow

See it if Are a fan of the star of the show

Don't see it if Looking for an upbeat show

82
Absorbing, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Disappointing

See it if The incomparable Marin Ireland keeps us riveted to Zimmerman's gun violence tale even as the tale itself grows taller & taller

Don't see it if Zimmerman loses audience by asking us to believe in a gimmicky plot devise. Silverman ably directs but again Marin has us at the first word

78
Great acting, Intense, Thought-provoking, Riveting, Great writing

See it if You enjoy exquisite acting by a solo performer, you wish to grapple with gun violence, grief, parenthood, feminist identity.

Don't see it if Trigger warnings: discussion of mass shootings, gun violence, school shootings, gas-lighting.

82
Ambitious, Edgy, Great acting, Intense, Resonant

See it if you want an emotional gut punch about the prevelance and outcomes of gun violence in America.

Don't see it if gun talk or parental tragedy make you uneasy. The subject matter is tough, and the intimate theater makes it that much more profound.

89
Intelligent, Intense, Relevant, Excruciating, Powerful

See it if you want to see a provocative, painful play addressing guns in our society.

Don't see it if you prefer comedies or musicals.

85
Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Intense, Relevant

See it if you like one person monologues. The story draws you in and spits you out. Marin Ireland is wonderful.

Don't see it if You probably should se this both for the actor's work and the story

79
Let's face it: marin ireland is queen of off-broadway

See it if 4 brilliant shape-shifting solo performance by Ireland, moving from conversational pose 2 red-hot avenging angel vs assault weapons

Don't see it if well-crafted but not altogether convincing script; this is NOT the play that is going to change people's minds about gun control

85
Absorbing, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Resonant

See it if you want to witness one of the finest, most present actresses of modern theatre. Marin Ireland in another tour-de-force performance.

Don't see it if you don't like one-person shows, or topics dealing with gun violence.

96
Absorbing, Clever, Great acting

See it if You appreciate outstanding acting on a very serious

Don't see it if You cant bear to hear about mass shootings.

Also Marin Ireland gives a brilliant performance as a mother who lost her s... Read more Read less

80
Absorbing, Great acting, Relevant, Great writing, Heartbreaking

See it if you're interested in plays about relevant social issues and want to see an incredible performance by Marin Ireland

Don't see it if you hate monologues regardless of how spectacular the writing and acting are, you want to see a play with a fancy set

86
Great acting, Intense, Relevant, Great writing

See it if a one woman show of brilliant acting for 60 minutes.

Don't see it if the topic of guns in the wrong hands so readily available, and the fatal harm perpetrated on children.

88
Ambitious, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Resonant

See it if a heartrending one-woman tour de force appeals to you. Marin Ireland is indescribably sublime in a performance that will stay with you.

Don't see it if you died that day. I can't think of another valid reason not to see this.

80
Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Resonant

See it if you want to see one of the best stage actresses of our time doing her thing in a very intimate space

Don't see it if you can't sit still and focus on one person for an hour, or if you're sensitive to descriptions and explorations of gun violence.

84
Absorbing, Intelligent, Relevant, Resonant

See it if You want to see an absorbing story on the topic of gun violence, loss, grief and its effect upon us.

Don't see it if You're looking for something light and fluffy.

96
Absorbing, Great acting, Intense, Important, Great lighting

See it if you like serious drama. Ireland is absolutely brilliant in this important piece of theatre. Now, more than ever, we need to hear this.

Don't see it if you only like big brassy musicals and hate anything that touches you and makes you think.

85
Absorbing, intelligent, thought-provoking, Very relevant and surprising., Marin ireland is very fine.

See it if Like compact solo shows that keep you riveted about our relationship to guns/violence. The story builds well. Marin is skillful and great.

Don't see it if The subject makes you uncomfortable, don't like solo shows with spare set and NO props. It's sad, but not graphic. Emotional and powerful.

83
Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Relevant

See it if you want an hour of beautiful, powerful, nuanced, seemingly effortless work from undoubtedly one of the truly great stage actresses we have.

Don't see it if solo plays bug you. The writing itself is smart, but sounds like an essay, not an active theatrical moment from the mouth of this character.

94
Absorbing, Ambitious, Edgy, Great acting, Great writing

See it if I wouldn't change a thing - this is monologue writing and perf at its very best. Writing is Pulitzer-worthy & Marin takes us on a wild ride

Don't see it if you're the quintessential NRA enthusiast.

77
Intense, Relatable, Riveting performance, Prolix

See it if An empty stage on which a woman who examines her psyche deeply but cannot know what she is capable of shares her grief and ensuing behavior

Don't see it if Affecting but over-written, didactic and over-directed. Not a moment of unexpressed emotion and nothing left for audience interpretation

80
Absorbing, Intense, Raw, Stark, Well-performed

See it if you're willing to spend 60 minutes at an intense, emotional, and sometimes eerie one-woman show about the aftermath of a school-shooting.

Don't see it if you dislike solo-performances, want something more lighthearted, or grow uneasy when it comes to topics of child-death and gun-usage.

Also The fierce and gripping one-hour performance by Marin Ireland in a bas... Read more Read less