Regional Reviews: Seattle
The Exonerated at The Moore Theatre
The road to hell is paved with good intentions and The Exonerated, a theatrical weaving together of tales of men and women unjustly given but ultimately reprieved from death sentences, is a vivid display of good intentions badly delivered.
The touring production at the Moore is headlined by two quite notable actors, Lynn Redgrave and Brian Dennehy, presumably to help sell tickets to what one would expect to be a tough sell show in these days when audiences crave light entertainment. Neither of the stars, nor any of their fellow ensemble cast members, shine particularly brightly under Bob Balaban's threadbare and meandering direction. Balaban, a fine actor himself, shows no directorial flair at all, simply having his actors seated behind music stands with scripts to reference. No attempt at any staging is made, and the in and out miking of the actors and unremarkable lighting add to the inadequacies of the production.
Dennehy gives a rather lazy, low-wattage performance that might play better on film, while Redgrave gives her character such an over-earnest reading that it feels wholly false. Some of the ensemble cast members have scattered bright moments, but none manage to sustain interest in characters that should be utterly compelling.
All the sadder is the fact that these true stories of the failure of our criminal justice system and the triumph of the human spirit are rather skillfully woven and intermingled by playwrights Jessica Blank and Eric Jensen. It deserves something much better than the sub-par readers theatre style presentation that it receives in this production.
The Exonerated runs through January 18 at the Moore Theatre, 1932 Second Avenue in downtown Seattle. For further information on the web go to www.themoore.com.- David-Edward Hughes