Review: The Last Days of Judas Iscariot

Photo courtesy of Tammy Doyle

On April 11, the Bellevue College theatre arts department opened their first spring production, The Last Days of Judas Iscariot in the Stop Gap Studio Theatre. The audience was submerged in darkness, intimately situated with a direct view of the dimly lit stage. The set was underwhelming, just a few chairs and stands to build the world of the production, but all of this was forgotten by the powerful performances of the cast.

Maggie Dugan kicked off the show with a portrayal of Judas’ mother Henrietta. “Parents should never bury their children,” she said. Although the subject matter is dark and controversial, there were many scenes that called for outrageous laughter. Stephen Adly Guirgis’ script is profane, sexually suggestive and historically outrageous, which made the show unforgettable. Some of the characters even smoked on stage to embody their characters.

Danika Drake plays the zealous lawyer Fabiana Aziza Cunningham, who defends Judas in court. She brings the case before Judge Littlefield, played by Logan Wilgus, a former Confederategeneral. Refusing to revisit the case, Cunningham enlists the persuasive power of St. Monica, played by Nasim Rizvi, the mother of St. Augustine. With God’s signature on the request to revisit Judas’ case, trials can commence once again. Cunningham is rallied against the promiscuous prosecutor Yusef El-Fayoum, played by James Webster, to bring Judas to justice one last time.

For most of the show, Judas is in a catatonic state, but as the play progresses, Ryan LeDrew brings Judas to light in flashbacks from his childhood and encounters with Satan.

The underlying message, “Can Judas be absolved?” is scrupulously examined by a slew of historical witnesses, Mother Teresa, Pontius Pilate, Simon the Zealot, Sigmund Freud and Caiaphus the Elder, played by Jennifer Weisner, Neil Wojewodzki, Curtis Gehlhausen, Jaeger Snyder and Zeke Fowler, respectfully. The witnesses’ testimonies build on each other for a strong narrative throughout the piece.

Judas must come to his own revelations to escape his fate of “freezing his ass off in Hell.” Bill Kilpatrick established a memorable performance on opening night for his portrayal of Satan. Head to toe in Gucci, his suave demeanor and choicest remarks have the audience rolling with laughter. As the show progresses, his charming façade diminishes as he breaks each character by revealing what is truly evil about each of them.

StageFright Student Productions brought a daring, ambitious production to the BC stage. Tackling the perplexing void of the limbo between heaven and hell, actors escalated the performance to cries of injustice and incredulity while maintaining the wretched nature of the bible’s despicable Apostle Judas. One of the final highlights of the show was a heartbreaking monologue by the character Butch Honeywell, played by Linn Bartel. “You cashed in silver,” he said, “but I gave up gold.” The show is brought to a close with a heart-to-heart between Judas and Jesus, played by Danny Lacker. The anticipation of Judas’ fate is drawn out the very last scene, where he is finally cleansed of his most wretched decision.