; Fun! Fun! Vancouver!: The Last Days of Judas Iscariot

Thursday, 12 April 2012

The Last Days of Judas Iscariot

At one point, you could clearly tell that five different theatre companies were involved in this epic and ambitious production currently being mounted at The Cultch. The Last Days of Judas Iscariot is presented by Rumble Productions and the Cultch, is a Pound of Flesh Theatre production, in association with Neworld Theatre and Pacific Theatre. It may have been a case of having too many cooks in the kitchen, but at the same time it's great to see independent theatre companies working together in the city.

I'm not religious so I'm not familiar with the Bible. I briefly know the story of Judas, but I'm pretty sure several parts of the show flew over my head because of my ignorance of Sunday school. The show itself began all mystical, and then turns itself on its head into a comedic semi-satire on religion.

Taking place in a circus of a courtroom located in "downtown Purgatory" we are introduced to the huge cast (I counted 14 actors!) that included a grumpy judge (my favourite!), a dim-witted bailiff, Saint Monica (a delight!), two clashing lawyers, and a slew of witnesses called up to testify in the case against Judas. The witnesses include Mother Theresa, Sigmund Freud, and Satan (my other favourite of the night!)

There's also Judas, Judas' mother, "Mary Mags", the jurors, and many more characters - each of whom get their own moment in the spotlight, which at times works and is welcomed, but at other times only manages to drag the play out longer than it needed to be. By the end, you could hear the audience squirming in their seats, which could have also been due to the stuffiness and heat of the theatre.

I felt myself being distracted by the social commentary thrown into the mix, making references to modern day prejudices while trying to expose the hypocrisy of people like Freud or Mother Theresa. What exactly was on trial here? The fragmented scenes didn't feel that cohesive to me, as I struggled to figure out what thread I was supposed to follow, what message I was supposed to get. The acting was over the top at some points, but was balanced out by the grumpy judge and Satan, who were both wonderful to watch.

But just because I was confused by it, doesn't mean you will be. I chalk it up to my lack of Biblical knowledge, so if you're better versed, you may get more out of it. I don't have a verdict for this one either positively or negatively. The jury's still out, so why not check out the show yourself and you can be the judge.

The Last Days of Judas Iscariot is playing at The Cultch until April 21st.

The Cultch has also announced its upcoming 2012/2013 season!

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