On The Exhale (3 stars)

This article is from 2018

On The Exhale

Sid Scott

Gun control drama is taut and timely

A lecturer in women's studies, played by Polly Frame, suffers the ultimate in survivor's guilt when her adored son Michael is killed in a high school shooting.

Numb with grief, railing at the 'nebulous motives' of the killings, she seeks some kind of closure, only to become seduced by the companionship of owning a gun herself. She takes matters into her own hands, tracking down a Republican senator. Freudian imagery abounds in Martin Zimmerman's monologue, where the squeeze of a trigger carries an erotic charge.

It's a fine character study in one woman's meltdown, the gamut of emotions beautifully portrayed by Frame, although it doesn't fully interrogate broader issues around gun ownership from either side of the debate. The breathing technique used prior to firing a gun becomes a kind of mantra to destruction, performed with an eerie, detached kind of calm. It's here that the play feels most effective, ramping up the tension. This reinforces the troubling need for an audience to become witnesses to the carnage.

There are shades at times, too, of Lionel Shriver's prose in the novel, We Need To Talk About Kevin. Not too original then, but it's a taut production which has a real emotional resonance.

Traverse, until 26 Aug, (not 13, 20), times vary, £20.50 (£15.50).

On the Exhale

  • 3 stars

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