Theatre Mirror Reviews - "The Last Days of Judas Iscariot"

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide

| MARQUEE | USHER | SEATS | INTERMISSION | CURTAIN |


"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

Reviews of Current Productions

note: entire contents copyright 2006 by Larry Stark


"The Last Days of Judas Iscariot"

by Stephen Adly Guirgis
Directed by Summer L. Williams

Lighting Design by Meaghan Dutton
Sound Design by Jeffrey Alan Jones
Scenic Design & Construction by Nathan Paoletta
Costume Design by Joy Adams
Costume Assistant Kaya Manselle
Dresser Nicole Sweeney Production Intern Meredith Pamp
Publicity Director Mason Sand
Assistant House manager Danny Balel
House & Production Manager Sarah Shampnois
Board Operator Lauren Miller
Assistant Stage Manager Francesca Gabourel
Stage Manager Sarah Cohan

Henrietta Iscariot/Saint Monica............Juanita Rodrigues
Gloria/Mother Theresa.........................Magda Spasiano
Judge/Caiaphus...............................George Saulnier
Bailiff....................................Kristian Williams
Cunningham....................................Noel Armstrong
El-Fayoumy........................................Mason Sand
Loretta/Sister Glenna/Mary Magdalene........Molly Kimmerling
Butch Honeywell/Freud............................Greg Maraio
Judas Iscariot...............................Raymond Ramirez
Matthias of Galilee/Saint Matthew/Soldier...Matthew Sherbach
Saint Peter/Simon The Zealot/Soldier...........Danny Maurino
Uncle Pino/Pontius Pilate.........................Cliff Odle
Satan..........................................Shawn LaCount
Jesus.............................................Nael Nacer
Saint Thomas....................................David Curtis

Company One is easily the most under-rated theatrical company in Boston. They have for years now brought bright, new, original plays into being here that play to small, devoted audiences, yet --- perhaps because of their commitment to inter-racial casting and original, innovative work --- they still hover on the fringes of acclaim. This time "The Last Days of Judas Iscariot" is a big, important play by Stephen Adly Guirgis that should not, cannot be ignored.

Just look at the cast-list: This courtroom drama calls Pontius Pilate, Saints Peter, Matthew and Thomas, Mother Theresa, Caiaphas, Sigmund Freud, Mary Magdalene, and Satan himself to testify for or against Judas --- who sits, catatonic, in Hell. But he is not really the one on trial. It is "all-compassionate God" Himself who is accused, at least in subtext, of centuries of refusal to forgive this last unreclaimed sinner. Historical figures slip in and out of the language of the streets here, each betraying human flaws. The trial takes three hours, yet seems to pass by in minutes. Guirgis grapples with unresolved conflicts in Biblical transcripts and theological interpretations of good and evil, flipping from the flip to the profound.

The real joy of the show is that the courtroom drama is thoroughly theatrical. George Saulnier as The Judge sits at a stylistic desk so high that tall Kristian Williams as his Bailiff can disappear and reappear through a door under his seat --- and at one point he leaves the stage to reappear a moment later in a quick costume-change to become Caiaphas. Many cast members double or even triple, sometimes surprisingly, sometimes with the aura of an earlier part illuminating a later one.

To stage-right is a witness-chair, but at first the Judge is grumpily unwilling to hear the case at all, until Iscariot's petitioner produces writs from first St. Peter and then God himself. As the lawyer seeking Judas' freedom from Hell, Noel Armstrong is a powerful contender, and later she holds her own, toe to toe, with a solidly realistic Satan played admirably by Shawn La Count. In contrast, arguing for the preosecution Mason Sand is almost a parody-lawyer so confident of his case he spend most of his energy trying to date is fellow lawyer.

Despite the fireworks of accusation and self-justification from disciples, denouncers and historical figures, the play is unhuried, thorough, and absorbing. There are even two cameo-appearances of Jesus himself (Nael Nacer), who treats even the catatonic Judas (Raymond Ramirez) as a human being deserving of compassion.

But of course it is not God the Son but God the Father whose unforgiving vengeance is on trial. And I think that, should there actually be a God, were He and I and Stephen Adly Guirgis happen to meet one day, We Will Have Words. And I know having heard this magnificent playwright's, who I'd bet will win that ultimate argument.

Check it out. Nothing you ever thought about such things will remain unchanged.

Love,
===Anon.

"The Last Days of Judas Iscariot" (14 July - 5 August)
COMPANY ONE
Boston Center for The Arts, 539 Tremont Street, BOSTON MA
1 (617)277-7032

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide

| MARQUEE | USHER | SEATS | INTERMISSION | CURTAIN |