BY GEORGE J. DACRE
Using actual transcripts, “The Exonerated” at Elmwood Playhouse is presented in narrative form, with the accused telling their stories of being unfairly or inaccurately accused of crimes including murder, often serving decades in prison before finally being exonerated by use of DNA or confessions by other people.
Elmwood makes an excellent presentation through these dialogues and use of silhouettes of people involved on screens. Picture displays in the theatre lobby are of the actual accused persons depicted. The stories are heartrendering as one after another victim of injustice, alone on the stage, tell how difficult life can become when unjustly accused.
Stories of rape and being sodomized while in prison, non-prosecution of the actual killers in some cases, even though the wrong person had been accused then exonerated by the same criminal justice system that had imprisoned them, come one after another in a gripping production.
Performing without an intermission the victims of justice gone awry tell their difficulty coping with life even after being exonerated and freed. Some tell of finding God while in prison and others tell of lawyers and college students who helped them by investigating their cases and getting them freed.
Terrific performances by actors Eric Dino, Stacey Cretekos, Phil Hannah, Andre Herzegovitch, Jeff Foote, William White, Fallen Jean-Baptiste, Helene Gardner, Andrea Peccoino, Neil Battinelli and Stavros Adamides. Voiceovers heard are those of Stavros Adamides, Rick Apicella, Neil Battinelli, Arthur Chill, Elaine D’Addwzeio, Emily Gardner, Helene Gardner, Steve Kiss, James Lugo, Mike Meth, Lou Morris, Joe Stern and Rich Wittenberg.
Written by Jessica Blank and Eric Jensen, “The Exonerated” is directed by Larry Wilbur. In the Playbill’s “Directors Notes” Wilbur noted there are times when a script demands to be performed, and his journey to directing “The Exonerated” came four years ago. His views of our justice system changed, noting that while bad people go to jail, some innocent people can get trampled in the system.
“The Exonerated” deserves Four Stars Out of Four. It runs weekends through February 9. Tickets at 845-353-1313 or elmwoodplayhouse.com.