Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Florida - Southern

Unreasonable Doubt

Also see John's reviews of Laffing Matterz and Into the Woods in Concert

Gordon McConnell and
Terry Hardcastle

Actors' Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre presents the world premiere of Michael McKeever's Unreasonable Doubt. McKeever examines the flaws of the American judicial system in a taut tale of a father who takes vigilante justice into his own hands to avenge the death of his ten year old daughter.

Ty Bosworth (Gordon McConnell) is an ex-cop and lapsed alcoholic, drowning his grief and anger over the murder of his daughter in scotch and vengeance. His daughter Alexandra (Sandi Jean) was tortured and killed by a man previously accused of an identical crime. Though her murderer was shot and killed by policemen, Ty does not feel justice has been served. He knows that Alexandra's murder would never have happened if her killer had been convicted of the first crime. And that would have happened if not for the skillful defense of high-profile attorney Ellis Burke (Terry Hardcastle).

Ty kidnaps Burke and takes him to his family's cabin in upstate New York. There he plans to hold and torture the lawyer for 24 hours before killing him. His drinking mingles with tortured visions of his daughter so real that she speaks to him. Amidst all this he is visited by his younger brother Terry (Antonio Amadeo) who is in on the plan, and his intrusive step-mother Willa (Barbara Bradshaw) and ex-wife Claire (Patti Gardner) who stumble into the situation unknowingly. They find a beaten and bleeding Burke, realizing that they are all now complicit to Ty's crimes. Once his plans are set in motion there seems no stopping Ty. He hollowly repeats the phrases: "continuous momentum—consequence after consequence—until we make it right." As the end of the 24 hours approaches, Claire, who is Jewish, points out that atonement is at hand as the sun sets and Yom Kippur begins. There may be enough time to find redemption by asking forgiveness before the gates of the book of life close and the new year begins.

The set for this production is the detailed main room of the cabin. Since the cabin is described as small, references to keeping Burke in the unseen den seem odd, as one wonders where the bedrooms are located. A minor prop observation is that no one would ever center a full leather couch in front of a huge fireplace no more than two-three feet away (at least no one who wanted to keep the couch). Aside from that, the rustic and homey elements such as fishing poles mounted on the wall, and assorted afghans thrown about, are nice touches. Background music is well chosen to establish the right feel and tension.

McConnell's performance as Ty is haunting, and his character's pain is palpable. McConnell gives us layers of flawed logic and motivation like a flower dropping petals as it dies. Hardcastle is rather straightforward in his performance. Burke is a lawyer who was just doing his job, realizing too late that the man he was defending was guilty. The writing for the character of Terry puts Amadeo at a disadvantage. Terry seems to have no clear commitment to the understanding of the enormity of what he has agreed to do. At one point, his character seems to be comedically out of the movie Fargo. It doesn't quite fit. Patti Gardner has a serene presence that calms the tension of the piece. She, Bradshaw and the rest of the cast work together beautifully in this production of Unreasonable Doubt.

Michael McKeever is a Florida-based playwright who has won three Carbonell Awards, four Curtain Up Awards and two Florida Individual Fellowship Scholarships. His other works include melt, Charlie Cox Runs With Scissors and 37 Postcards.

Unreasonable Doubt appears through June 6, 2010 in the Balcony Theatre of Actors' Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre in Coral Gables. Actors' Playhouse is a Florida Presenting Cultural Organization and a nonprofit professional regional theatre hiring local and non-local Equity and non-Equity actors. In addition to its Mainstage season, Actors' Playhouse produces a year-round five-show season of Musical Theatre for Young Audiences, a National Children's Theatre Festival, and a Theatre Conservatory and Summer Camp Program. Actors' Playhouse is located at 280 Miracle Mile in Coral Gables, Florida. Information and tickets may be obtained by contacting the theater at their box office at (305) 444-9293, or online at

Ty Bosworth: Gordon McConnell*
Ellis Burke: Terry Hardcastle*
Willa Bosworth: Barbara Bradshaw*
Terry Bosworth: Antonio Amadeo*
Alexandra Bosworth: Sandi Jean
Claire Hoffman: Patti Gardner*

Director: David Arisco
Scenic Design: Gene Seyffer
Lighting Design: Patrick Tennent
Sound Design: Alexander Herrin
Costume Design: Ellis Tillman
Stage Manager: Carl Waisanen*

*Designates a member of Actors' Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.

Photo: Alberto Romeu

See the current theatre season schedule for southern Florida.

-- John Lariviere