The Last Days of Judas Iscariot

Cases are backed up in the divine courtroom but the time is nigh for rendering a final verdict in the case of The Kingdom of Heaven v. Judas Iscariot.

This 2005 Stephen Guirgis play now showing at Stages Theater was first staged off-Broadway. The cast of 20+ is speckled with stars and they get to shine during the 2+ hours. It has a modern feel, and boldly cross-examines witnesses to the death of Jesus.

Defense is conducted by a capable, alluring, young Jewish Fabiana Aziza Cunningham (the capable, alluring Tiffany Toner). The judge (Wilson Raiser) is prejudiced, misogynist from the American South in 1864, and the prosecution (Anthony Rutowicz) is a obsequious Arabic flatterer who warships Mother Theresa (Sara Masheyekh). Even in the perfect court you must deal with real people, it seems.

But the real show begins with the parade of witnesses. Anyone who has died in the interim, and Satan, may be summoned. The characters and actors are too many to list here, but my favorites were the portrayals of Caiaphas (Matt Grisat), Simon the Zealot (Jose Zazueta), and the sub-trial of Mother Theresa.

No one was left off the hook. Each person who took the stand had their morality laid bare for all to see. Their justifications ranged from venerable but shaky Caiaphas, Simon and the Apostles to the debased and impotent morality of a Sigmund Freud who explains that the suicidal Judas was insane and so no more culpable of killing Jesus than of giving someone else a cold, thereby reducing man’s moral efficacy to that of a droplet of snot.

In one sweeping trial “Last Days” reviews the stated and well documented morality of the last 2000 years, and comes up wanting. Soon after mentioning that ontology is concerned with relating the particular to the ideal they discuss the Americanization of the Heavenly Court. Did the ideal court change? Ask Parmenides, if that’s what you’re in to.

Soon after Jesus says, “I am all of you”, he asks Judas to trust him to be who he is and love him according to his nature. It was like talking to Christine O'Donnell.

With all it’s flaws the play does not fear to tread on old assumptions. The writer seems concerned not with religion, but with the morals and principals by which we conduct our lives.

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