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On the Exhale

“Intricate study of grief”

‘Active shooter’ is a term with which most people don’t have to be familiar. But American playwright Martin Zimmerman’s monologue, responding to the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting, pulls apart all the horrors of that phrase.

Told, slightly jarringly in the second person, through the eyes of the mother of a school shooting victim, in minute detail On the Exhale looks at the build-up to, and aftermath of, the unthinkable, yet sadly all-too-common act.

Polly Frame treads delicately over Frankie Bradshaw’s beautifully austere set design, the stage strewn with the kind of fluorescent strip lights you get in classrooms. This makes the space look like a school has collapsed and Frame is walking in its debris.

Frame’s still and centred performance, under Edinburgh Fringe stalwart Christopher Haydon’s careful direction, brings out the intensity and moments of poetry in Zimmerman’s script, which contains some devastating lines.

But the story is double-edged. The second half looks at the frightening power of a gun, and takes a strange direction when Frame’s character herself becomes obsessed with an assault rifle she buys.

While both strands of the story make their point, they don’t marry well in this one character. In maintaining its intricate, psychological study of grief while also moving into slightly absurd territory, the impact of the play is ultimately flattened.

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Production Details
Production nameOn the Exhale
VenueTraverse Theatre
StartsAugust 1, 2018
EndsAugust 26, 2018
Running time1hr 5mins
AuthorMartin Zimmerman
DirectorChristopher Haydon
Set designerFrankie Bradshaw
Lighting designerColin Grendel
Sound designerDonato Wharton
CastPolly Frame
Production managerChristopher Whitwood
ProducerAudible, China Plate, New Theatre Royal Portsmouth
VerdictIntense monologue about a US school shooting loses its bite
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Tim Bano

Tim Bano

Tim Bano

Tim Bano

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