Sunday, November 9, 2008

WLS Review: "The Last Days of Judas Iscariot"

Last night I finally saw Karl Girolamo (Kevin, AS THE WORLD TURNS) in "The Last Days of Judas Iscariot" at Pianos Bar & Grill in Bloomfield, New Jersey.

Should Judas Iscariot, Jesus Christ's duplicitous disciple continue to languish in Hell, or can a case be made for his redemption? Playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis seems to think that this sinner should at least be given another hearing.

To explore the redeemability of this infamous betrayer, Guirgis has envisioned a courtroom in a corner of Purgatory called Hope. To represent the comatose Judas (Nikhil Vaid), he's created a sexy defense attorney named Fabiana Aziza Cunningham (Shannon Connolly) who presents a petition signed by God to the ill-tempered Civil War era presiding judge. She challenges Judge Littlefield's unsympathetic view of Judas with "Your Honor, are you a citizen of Heaven?" Her comeback to his defensive "my papers are pending" is that his papers have been pending for a hundred and forty years and that he's farther than ever from the call of the truth about hanging himself from a tree on a Georgia battlefield.

And so the legal maneuverings between the Kingdom of Heaven and Earth versus Judas Iscariot begins. Cunningham's opponent is a womanizing prosecutor named Yusef El-Fayoumy (David Zappacosta) and the next several hours bring a parade of witnesses. But don't expect a somber, period drama trial. While Guirgis' dialogue is often poetic, it is a poetry couched in contemporary hip-hop street talk with the deeper thematic concerns often presented as laughter-inducing monologues -- for example, the first testimony from Saint Monica (Ayana Bey), "heaven's nag" with a decidedly hip and down-to-earth vocabulary. She relates how she descended from her saintly perch to "check out" Judas for herself and, after convincing herself of his remorse, "went back home and got on the horn with God."

Other colorful personalities parading in and out of Littlefield's court are Satan (Roger Casey), Sigmund Freud (Dustin Fontaine) and Pontius Pilate (Girolamo). Girolamo and Casey really stole the show for me. As Pilate and Satan, they had hilarious testimonies that had the audience in stitches. Girolamo played a street thug version of Pontius Pilate with incredible intensity and humor and showed an unbelievable range.

This Blacklisted Productions show closes tonight with a show at 7pm, and if you are in the area, check it out. Michael Liscio Jr.'s full scale directing debut is a successful one and I suspect we will be seeing him more in the future.


No comments:

Post a Comment