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On the Exhale

From 13 critic and 67 member reviews
Members say: Great acting, Absorbing, Relevant, Intense, Thought-provoking

About the show

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. More…

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


"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

Smart, Relevant, Profound, Great acting, Must see

See it if you like to think and you like great acting

Don't see it if you think it's fine to have people buy assault weapons in 5 minutes with perfunctory background checks

Absorbing, Great acting, Clever

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

Absorbing, Great acting, Great lighting, Intense, Important

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.

Riveting, Resonant, Profound, Must see, 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.

Relevant, Resonant, Intelligent, Great acting

See it if you like good acting and the human condition.

Don't see it if you are triggered by gun violence.

Absorbing, Great writing, Intense, Profound

See it if you love great writing- this show is perfectly paced and absolutely beautiful.

Don't see it if you find monologues written in the second person off-putting.

Great acting, Great writing, Relevant, Absorbing

See it if You've never liked a one-performer show. This will be the one that wins you over - it did for me. If you're pro-guns - you'll be challenged.

Don't see it if You are going to the theatre for a fun, light hearted night out. This show has heavy content.

Also I recommend the front row. You are inches away from this incredible ac... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Absorbing, Great acting, Relevant, Thought-provoking

See it if You want your theatre to transport you and show you perspectives you've never known or felt, even if it hurts, disturbs and shocks you.

Don't see it if you want a comedy, prefer to escape from the news versus confront emotional and political lightning rods, or if you dislike one person shows

Also I don't want to ever see this again but Marin is a brilliant actress. ... Read more Read less

Clever, Great acting, Intelligent, Profound, Relevant

See it if if you want to see a well written one person play beautifully crafted

Don't see it if if you aren't a fan of one person plays and have issues with gun control and violence as subject of plays

Also What a beautifully written piece that is so topical. This play not onl... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Ambitious, Great writing, Great acting, Edgy

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.

Must see, Intense, Relevant, Great acting, Great writing

See it if Do! This compelling solo piece lulls & plants you, powerfully, vividly into the arena of gun violence. Transformative, poignant experience.

Don't see it if grief for gun violence victims fresh. Who should not be exempt: members of Congress & all w/ means to work toward eradicating gun violence.

Also So grateful to see this on Broadway HD channel late February '18. I ha... Read more Read less

Thought-provoking, Intense, Absorbing, Great acting, Masterful

See it if you want a totally immersive and thought provoking hour of theatre. Marin Ireland does an incredible job and the writing is beautiful.

Don't see it if you don't think you can handle a show about gun violence

Great acting, Intense, Riveting, Thought-provoking, Absorbing

See it if you want to see an intense, powerful performance; you want to explore a difficult subject and its resulting emotions; you want to think.

Don't see it if the subject matter is triggering for you, or if you don't enjoy watching just one actor and no props; you want something light and happy.

Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Intelligent, Great acting, Riveting

See it if Would like to be moved by the complexity of grief

Don't see it if You cannot sit still, watching one person talk for an hour

Absorbing, Great acting, Ambitious, Intense, Thought-provoking

See it if you like one-person shows and aren't afraid to explore heavy topics. The performance was amazing.

Don't see it if You are looking for something lighthearted and silly.

Intense, Riveting, Great acting, Ambitious

See it if You enjoy the terrific Marin Ireland.

Don't see it if You dislike Marin Ireland.

Absorbing, Great acting, Intense, Riveting

See it if you like intense, no-frills, raw theater that deals with current sensitive issues and you like great acting. Marin Ireland never disappoints

Don't see it if You hate one-person shows or are sensitive about issues of gun violence.

Absorbing, Great acting, Must see, Relevant, Great writing

See it if You would like to be challenged emotionally and intellectually; if you are open to alternative theater forms (one-woman, one-hour monologue)

Don't see it if You are sensitive to topics of gun violence, death; you do not condone criticism of gun licensing laws

Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Masterful, Resonant

See it if you want to see a powerful performance by Marin Ireland in a heart-wrenching solo show.

Don't see it if you don't want to feel the pain of a victim of gun violence.

Excruciating, Intense, Intelligent, Relevant, 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.

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

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

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

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.

Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Profound, Relevant

See it if you can enjoy a one woman monologue about the effects of gun violence in her life. This is a passionate and disturbing piece of theater.

Don't see it if you totally dislike one-actor shows; you strongly believe that all gun ownership is a Constitutional right, no matter what the consequences

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.

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

Cast & Creatives (8)