Blake Stage Company made their debut performance of Jeffrey Archer’s The Accused, Friday, March 18. The intense courtroom drama depicts the trial of Dr. Sherwood, who is accused of murdering his wife. The audience plays the role of the jury, and gets to decide whether or not Dr. Sherwood is guilty. This play had me on the edge of my seat the entire three hours! I went twice because there was an entirely different cast Saturday night, and I thoroughly enjoyed both performances.
In order to showcase Blake’s extensively talented student body, each role in the play was double-cast: the two casts alternate performances. Senior Elliott Kirwan and junior Marcus Ross are double-cast as the accused Dr. Sherwood, senior Ella Weikert and junior Reese Schenkel play prosecution attorney Amanda Kersley, and senior Emma Kelly and junior Kelvin Dukes play defense attorney, Ms/Mr. Barrington.
The talented actors brought the story alive both nights I went. The interrogation and cross-examination of suspects made it feel like I really was watching a trial in a courtroom!
All of the actors did a great job, but there were a few standouts to me. Ella Weikert and Emma Kelly had especially impressive performances. Their competitive, back and forth dynamic as prosecution and defense was so convincing, you’d never believe the two were best friends in real life. Both actresses excelled at delivering their lines with passion and drama. Junior Marcus Ross also put on a great performance as Dr. Sherwood. He brought a new level of intensity to the character which kept my attention every time he spoke.
The set, which was created almost entirely by students, was beautiful. I’ve never been in a courtroom, but everything seemed pretty accurate to me: there were dark, wooden-looking walls, desks for the prosecution and defense, a witness chair, and the judge even presided over the “court” from a second-story seat.
By the time intermission came, I was thoroughly invested in the story. I went outside to the lobby to stretch my legs and buy flowers for my favorite actors, and I was surprised to see… reporters?! The double cast, on their off night, had dressed up as reporters on the case of Dr. Sherwood and were going around asking the audience, aka the jury, questions about the trial! I thought this was so fun and unique and it really added another level to the production.
Once all of the evidence had been presented, we, the jury, were provided with an online code to vote for a verdict. I really enjoyed the interactive aspect of the show, it was really cool to be able to play the role of the jury. The audience actually voted differently on the nights I went, so I got to see both endings of the play!
Overall, Blake Stage Company’s production of The Accused was incredible. The talented actors and interactivity of the production really kept me interested throughout the show. I definitely recommend coming to see the show here at Blake on March 25th and 26th at 7:30!