This review aired on KBAQ September 30, 2013


iTheatre Collaborative, Kax Stage, Herberger Theater Center
Phoenix, AZ

iTheatre Collaborative brings us Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen’s thought-provoking new play, “The Exonerated” that is about six people wrongly incarcerated for crimes they didn’t commit.  Eventually freed, the play paints a depressing view of the American criminal justice system as it shows how innocent people are mistakenly accused.

The people in “The Exonerated” are without the resources to prove their innocence and these characters should create two audience responses.  One is an intellectual reaction to the wrongful accusations; the other is that these people must grip audiences emotionally.

For “The Exonerated” to succeed, both reactions must be conveyed but actors here only expose the wrongful accusations without involving audiences emotionally with the terrible predicaments resulting from the incorrect charges.

These are true stories of six death row survivors who took bad raps.  The actors convey the intellectual challenges these innocent people confront but they never reveal the emotional struggles these situations cause.

Sunny, with two children, is accused with her partner of killing two officers at a rest stop.  A friend killed the police but Sunny was condemned to die even though a jury recommended life.  She was eventually freed after serving over 16 years but her kids grew up without parenting and Sunny was devastated.  As portrayed by Terri Scullin, you understand the character’s frustration at not being able to raise her kids but you never care about her unfair situation.

Delbert was accused of raping a woman and killing her companion even though he was 200 miles away.  Although released initially, the victim identified him although he didn’t resemble her attacker’s description and Delbert never readjusts to life.  Rod Ambrose tries hard to convey Delbert’s two sides but only succeeds in getting us to believe the facts without showing the emotional impact of the charges.

And the same insufficiencies impact T. A. Barrows’ Robert who, in spite of inept DNA testing, was wrongfully accused of killing a man.  Ron Foltz’s Kerry was convicted of murder but, after 21 years in prison, was released after deplorable treatment by fellow prisoners but the actor never causes audiences to care about the awful things Kerry endured.  Robert Peters’ Gary and Mike Traylor’s David are similarly plagued.

The play screams at the American court system’s injustices.  It’s a shocking revelation but the production fails to convey the terrible trauma caused by untrue charges.  It continues through October 12.  For tickets, call the iTheatre Collaborative box office at 602-347-1071 or order tickets online at

Grade: B for content
D for production