Yes, I have seen plays and musicals before. You know, from high-school plays with students who would later realize that they were destined for Broadway, to an actual Broadway show. Just one though, don’t be too impressed. The common theme of success in all of them is finding that actor who brings to life a character in a manner where you both believe that the actor IS the character in real life and vice versa.
This March I ventured into the Mad Horse theater hoping to be in awe of the engaging dialogue Pulitzer winning Playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis is famous for.
The last days of Judas Iscariot is a play set in a courtroom, picking apart every argument for the Bible character Judas Iscariot. The man who betrayed Jesus, tried to recant is offer and then committed suicide. The basis of argument is ‘Does he deserve to be punished in hell for his betrayal or forgiven because it was simply a mistake’.
Mad Horse theater seemed to pick actors who embodied all the aspects the original play-write intended to portray. Thoroughly impressed by the no-nonsense acting of Janice Gardner who played Fabiana Cunningham, the defense lawyer, Nick Schroeder who gave the truest most tortured performance of Judas Iscaiot and especially by Brent Askari who played Satan.
Brent gave a scathing monologue toward the end which, while you may have began to agree with some of his arguments, brought out the malicious, heart-wrenching evil and psychological torture you expect only with Satan himself. The powerfully delivered monologue left you both aching with pity for Fabiana (to whom the speech is mostly targeted) and a kind of empathy as you reflect on your own life, interpret as you will.
The true beauty of this play is only accessible through great acting and understanding of the dialogue. Stacey Koloski, the director, gave just that. There is no definitive answer or ruling at the end and it is that cliff-hanging that leaves you pondering the play well after leaving the theatre.