The Exonerated relays the true stories of six wrongly accused individuals sent to Death Row through dialogue excerpted from letters, interviews, case files and the public record. The protagonists’ accounts intermingle throughout to expose not only some horrific events and unthinkable treatment born from being in the wrong place at the wrong time, but a collective, indomitable human spirit which is to conquer the corrupt American justice system as truth is finally revealed.
Although there is absolutely no interaction between the characters, this distinguished and accomplished cast achieves the perfect balance. With the exception of Derek Griffiths’ Delbert, whose enlightened interjections as he moves deftly and purposefully about the stage cast him in the role of detached onlooker, the characters are mostly motionless. Yet Jaclyn McLoughlin’s clever direction ensures the feeling is always one of eerie unity; even without touching or speaking, these people are inextricably and poignantly linked, somehow hearing every word that is uttered.
Lisa Eichorn’s Sunny is beautifully understated. Gentle, accepting and softly spoken, she relates the tragic details of her sixteen lost years in a way that exudes pathos but which never fails to invoke admiration for her incredible strength.
Glenn Carter’s Gary is similarly philosophical as he tells of his murdered parents and various survival mechanisms. Unobtrusiveness does not negate his powerful presence and we are continually drawn to his wistful stare as the others speak. Worthy also of particular mention is Ian Porter, whose character Kerry is incorrectly branded a homosexual and appallingly abused by other inmates in jail. His accounts of this and the death of his beloved brother are both sensitive and incredibly moving.
The death penalty remains a way of life in Texas and many other US states. The Exonerated is a potent reminder of this and, for this reason alone, well worth a look.