Theatre Critic and Journalist

Review: The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, St Leonard’s Church

Review: The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, St Leonard’s Church

Published in Time Out, 23.04.2013

Even with the flair of Rupert Goold at the helm, Stephen Adly Giurgis’s play was deemed overlong at its celebrated UK premiere at the Almeida in 2008. In actor-director-producer Antony Law’s hands – clad in grey and static as cement – it becomes positively purgatorial. Given Giurgis’s play is set in the celestial law courts, that’s oddly appropriate – albeit no consolation.

In the dock, Judas Iscariot (Priyank Morjaria) awaits his ultimate, eternal fate for that betrayal. His defence lawyer’s got some decent arguments: positing Judas as an Hegelian antithesis to Jesus (the supervillain necessary for any superheroics, basically), laying equal blame with Pontius Pilate and Caiaphas the Elder, and demonstrating that none of us – not even Mother Teresa – are absolutely good.

These are big, bold, heavyweight ideas, but Giurgis keeps things light with a hoochy Downtown Manhattan vibe and a stellar line-up of witnesses, including Sigmund Freud, Mary Magdalene and, of course, Satan himself.

However, Law’s production has neither the budget or the imagination to come close to making it all work. It’s far too earnest and there’s not the intellectual clout to fill its clanging abstract concepts or unravel its intricate theology.

Credit though to Jeremiah O’Connor, whose haughty Satan shrugs off proceedings with aplomb, and Michael Aguilo as the fawning, two-bit lawyer leading the prosecution.

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