Stephen Adly Guirgis’s THE LAST DAYS OF JUDAS ISCARIOT, as directed by Erin Guard, challenges conceptualizations of what ‘went down’ in the days of Judas Iscariot, exploring why one of the most reviled characters in biblical times be given redemption via a retrial; why and how despair might be transmuted into Hope. Abstract, absurdity and comedy are mixed up and juxtaposed with a quest for perspective, understanding and truth. Street-speak dialogue and euphonious (prose) profanity seek to blast out ‘thees’ and ‘thous’ of yore, to interject fresh circumspection regarding Judas’s life, times, character and motives. Mother Theresa (delightfully played by Raquel Pérez), Sigmund Freud (convincingly done, script in hand, opening night by Thomas-Robert Irvin), Pontius Pilate (bang up job by Thomas-Robert Irvin), Caiaphas the Elder (austerely rendered by Leigh Jacobs), and Satan (excellently given his due by Ben Kendall) and select apostles including Simon the Zealot (imbued with spunk by Charles Hoffman) among others, give deposition in the court of Purgatory during retrial of Judas Iscariot in Hope, Purgatory which is somewhere between Heaven and Hell.
Satan, you say? Yes, the Devil himself, in a dashing pink lounge jacket and sunglasses sporting a raspy voice and goatee, agrees to give testimony stating, “Never let it be said that the Prince of Lies stood in the way of truth.”, and also lets the court know that the Devil did not make Judas do it. The court in Purgatory is presided over by Judge Littlefield (given strong presence and refreshing candor by Jim Fryer), who must also referee between councils Fabiana Aziz Cunningham, (powerully played by Cathy Gibbons Mostek) who is of gypsy and Irish descent, and opposing counsel, Yusef El-Fayoumyis (‘purr’fectly portrayed by Animesh Karna) or “el Fajita” as per Judge Littlefield, who is a Catholic Egyptian (the playwright attended Catholic school and is the son of an Egyptian father and Irish-American mother), where evidence such as “ancient surveillance footage” is admitted. St. Monica (‘rocked’ by Robyn G. May) intercedes and even visits Judas (granted depth by Carl Dillard). To rouse him she shouts “…You got change for thirty pieces of silver…?”, but Judas is totally catatonic with despair. Even Jesus (poignantly depicted by Darrell Alonzo Williams) has trouble getting through to Judas when he tries to convince him that he is yet worthy of his love. In the end the audience, having been both entertained and enlightened by the events of this well performed theatrical trial, can decide for themselves between right and wrong.
This production sports a large, completely stellar cast, some of whom deftly pop into and out of the audience, and make excellent use of the superbly spartan set and other theater spaces, including areas of light and darkness.
Note: Adult language and situations may be inappropriate for children and possibly others sensitive to such.
THE LAST DAYS OF JUDAS ISCARIOT
Stephen Adly Guirgis
Directed by Erin Guard
February 22 – March 9, 2013
Players Club of Swarthmore’s Second Stage
614 Fairview Avenue
Swarthmore, PA 19081