Tag Archives: Headlong Theatre

Theatre Review: The Last Days of Judas Iscariot

7 Apr

Plot: The Last Days of Judas Iscariot is a wildly funny court-room drama in which history’s most infamous betrayal is dissected by forces of good and evil. In a court room that owes as much to the ghetto to the Gospels, figures such as Pontius Pilate, Mother Teresa and Sigmund Freud are called to testify in a trial of God and the Kingdom of Heaven and Earth versus Judas Iscariot.

I almost missed this production because I am already quite heavily booked for April but I thought that since it’s just at the Almeida, might as well go and see what the hype is all about. What also prompted me to book a ticket, albeit a restricted view (which wasnt too bad), was that Philip Seymour Hoffman also directed this play back in New York, so somehow it’s going to be a good thing. Rupert Goold directs this co-production with Headlong Theatre, a play written by Stephen Adly Guirgis. The plot makes for an interesting premise, and since I already have an opinion which I am not going to bore you with, it was quite fun to watch the comical courtroom proceedings, with the prosecution and defense battling it out against each other and of course, the star witnesses called into the trial.

An easy favorite was Mark Lockyer who played the Egyptian prosecutor Yusef El-Fayoumy. I just loved his antics from the very start. There was something about him that reminded me of Sacha Baron Cohen but better. I was in stitches by the time Mother Teresa (Donna Croll) was called in, with her headphones and all. The other witnesses that stood out were the reverent but quite bitter Caiaphas the Elder (Gawn Grainger), a hooded Simon the Zealot (John Macmillan), a golf-strutting Pontius Pilate (Ron Cephas Jones) and Sigmund Freud (Josh Cohen). Last but not the least, I was awestrucked by Douglas Henshall’s disdainful Satan and he reminded me so much of Jack Nicholson.

My main complaint which is probably not a problem for the others is the amount of F words that was used, even David Mamet will blush. Sure it’s set in a New York ghetto cum purgatory and it speaks about the culture and language of the times but do we really need to hear it like all throughout?

So what was the verdict? Did Judas Iscariot (Joseph Mawle) win the case? Was he pardoned and will not go to hell? I tell you what, despite repeated proddings by Jesus (Edward Hogg) in the final act who kept assuring him of his love which Judas continuously rebuffed, you can judge for yourself.

The Last Days of Judas Iscariot: 3/5

Playing at the Almeida Theatre until May 10

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