The Last days of Judas Iscariot Production Team

Judas Iscariot is the epitome of the popular idea of a sinner. Selling his loyalty to Jesus, his best friend, for money, causing the death of the Messiah, and not even staying alive to face the consequences of his actions – there doesn’t seem to be anyone worse. Louise Dai and Hannah Samuel-Ogbu’s production of The Last Days of Judas Iscariot takes this religious history and flips it on its head, staging a hilarious, confronting, and unquestionably thought-provoking account of Judas’ imaginary court case. Tackling themes of truth, justice, and natural law alongside fabulously comic cameos from great thinkers of history, this production is bravely ambitious in scope.

The performances of the cast are nothing short of incredible. Rishi Sharma is an appropriately enigmatic Judas, keeping the audience guessing right until his heart-breaking emotional scene with Jesus (Jago Wainwright) at the end of the play. The two lawyers, Fabiana Aziza Cunningham (Roma Ellis) and Yusef El-Fayoumy (Ayush Prasad) skilfully develop a nuanced dynamic, moving beyond stereotypical banter into deeper emotional territory. Ellis in particular delivers a highly accomplished monologue as they tirade against Satan (Saul Bailey), allowing the audience a glimpse behind Cunningham’s façade of unshakeable confidence. In fact, the monologues of this production are where the cast really shine. Marie-Ange Camara is a hilarious Saint Monica, matching excellent physical comedy and great stage presence with emotional sensitivity and skilful character understanding. Katy Lawrence and Theo Rooney also deliver as Henrietta Iscariot and Saint Peter respectively. Owen Igiehon’s performance as Butch Honeywell, which closes the production, is close to perfect. He commands the stage with grace and talent, completely capturing the audience. Although the lengthy courtroom scenes suffered from some pacing issues, the strength of these monologues almost completely redeem the entire production.

“Use of the balconies on the upper levels of the auditorium is a genius directorial choice by Dai and Samuel-Ogbu”

Technically, this production is flawless. Even before the audience steps foot in Queens’ College’s Fitzpatrick Hall, they are already wowed by the spectacular publicity, designed by Dai and featuring photography by Maria Woodford. In the venue, the production design is slick, tasteful, and impactful, taking full advantage of the unique space. Charley Ipsen’s set design is cohesive and functional, creating the perfect structure for the wide variety of settings that the script demands. The actors’ use of the balconies on the upper levels of the auditorium is a genius directorial choice by Dai and Samuel-Ogbu, creating the sense of “heaven” while also allowing the characters to interact directly with the audience. Anna-Maria Woodrow’s sound design adds invaluable atmosphere to the sometimes visually spare scenes, and Tungsten Tang’s efforts in lighting are mammoth. The costumes, designed by Audrey Briggs, walk the perfect line between sincere and comic, with a badass Saint Monica clothed in leather playing alongside a Mother Teresa whose robes are edged in blue duct tape. On stage, this production does not take itself too seriously, but the production team certainly did – and it pays off in spades.


Mountain View

The Last Days of Judas Iscariot Preview: In search of Judas

Addressing the audience directly from a balcony, Saint Matthew (Bella Ridgwell) says, “This is not a made-up story. This is history. This is fact”. The Last Days of Judas Iscariot cannot ignore its roots, and, unfortunately, it occasionally becomes bogged down in the intense theological discussion at its heart. The courtroom scenes occasionally stray into yawn-worthy territory, which might prevent the audience from grasping the emotional core of the play until it is spelled out at the end. There are, however, some outrageously funny scenes – Bailey as Satan, Prasad as Yusef El-Fayoumy, and Ridgwell as (none other than) Sigmund Freud particularly stand out. The cast is incredibly strong, and they deal well with the demands of the tonal shifts in the script. This is a really polished show, and one that delivers on its ambitious goal. For those of any faith or none, this is a provocative and captivating challenge to answer universal questions of justice and truth – and it’s a truly accomplished piece of theatre.