Monday, October 29, 2007
Theater Review: The Last Days of Judas Iscariot
Risk Theater Initiative has produced a successful show yet again.
Creating a work centered on religious themes and characters is always a tricky business. When portraying historical, iconic characters it is easy to fall into a trap -- making the them too cliché or making your agenda too politicized. Risk Theater Initiative’s The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, which opened this weekend at their new space, skillfully avoided all of these traps.
The play centers on Judas’ trial in purgatory, and a liberal, young, female lawyer’s attempt to have him cleared of all charges and let in to heaven. Many famous witnesses are called on his behalf and against him including Mother Teresa, Sigmund Freud, and Lucifer himself. What makes these characters so unique is their portrayal. They use clichés skillfully by upholding them and debunking them at the same time. Typical religious figures such as Peter, Matthew, and Judas himself are modernized in a way that makes them accessible without diminishing the root of their characters.
Standout performances were given by the hilarious Ginger Goldman as the ghetto fabulous St. Monica and the hard-of-hearing Mother Theresa and R. Bruce Elliott as Caiaphas, the Elder and the Judge. These actors played up the comedy in their roles without harming the meaning of their words. Dan Forsythe’s portrayal of Judas Iscariot had me rooting for his immediate release to heaven.
The set design (Tom Parr IV) was great in its simplicity. It helped keep the pace of the show going while highlighting the different scenes through the levels on which they took place. The individual aspects of the show were all above the bar, although the overall show lacked moments of connectivity, as there were many awkward, noticeable line flubs.
All in all though, I’d say that Risk has produced a successful show yet again. Skip church and go see The Last Days of Judas Iscariot. The show will run until November 18 with performances on Thursdays through Saturdays at 8:00 p.m., and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. For tickets, call 214-223-7483 or purchase online.
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