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the last days of judas iscariot

The Last Days of Judas Iscariot

Company 08 & QUT Precincts

QUT Gardens theatre

27th – 31st March

Reviewed by Meredith McLean


I’m no architect but despite this fault in my knowledge I’ve always loved the Gardens Theatre at Gardens Point. It reminds me of Mary Poppins’ handbag.



It looks so small on the outside but when you step inside it gets bigger and bigger. There’s a neat front desk, a quaint modern bar around the corner and the stage will pleasure any theatre technician with a soft spot for lighting. However, I am not reviewing the building, which is a shame because I would’ve taken my hat off to it without a second thought. No, I’m reviewing The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, the play I saw in this wonderful theatre the other night.

The Last Days of Judas Iscariot can be summed up to many things. Black comedy. Religious parody. Phrases such as these come to mind. Hit show would not be in that mix for me. Looking into the history of this play this was not a clean-cut success. Its original production came with mixed reviews. Some giving appraisal and others asking if it was “too much New York.” It is true that it did begin at off-Broadway and George Street in Brisbane isn’t exactly New York but something in that review did sit with me. It niggled at me during the first act. It hung around the bar with me during intermission and sat next to me a little too close for comfort throughout the rest of the show. Finally, while trying to mind my own business on the train ride home, I couldn’t take it anymore.



I had to scream to this irritating comment, amongst others from previous reviews.

“Did you enjoy

the show?”

the relentless thought asked me.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t say for the entire duration I did.

The premise is promising enough. In fact I was excited for this production because of the concept it was presenting. The idea that Judas waits in purgatory for a Judge Judy-like woman to decide the verdict; Heaven or Hell seemed hilarious. Having eyewitnesses like friends, family, Freud and even Satan seemed like the perfect spark for a good comedy. In the case of this production there were moments where echoes of laughter bounced off the walls of the theatre. But like I said, they were only moments. There was no consistency. It was a lucky draw waiting to see if this next scene would make me laugh or make me wait.

Although I do have to contend with the thought that it is simply the fault of the script. Regardless of these university students’ talent perhaps it was the original script by playwright, Stephen Adly Guirgis, which has let us down. There were recurring moments where I would sit quietly thinking to myself “This skit should’ve ended five lines ago.” There was so much unnecessary banter between characters, jokes repeated for the sake of an extra laugh and persisting moments of characters shouting nothing of use to the audience.

I question Guirgis’ writing because there was one young man who stood out for me in this production. There was constancy in his character that made me laugh every time he spoke. Even his movements relayed those of his role, El Fayoumy: A pseudo-lawyer acting against the defendant, Judas. Thomas Albert played the imposturous disaster of an attorney. The dedication to absurdity in Thomas was impressive. It was his ridiculousness in every wave of an arm or unnecessary shout of “Objection!” that kept me laughing.

Likewise, Leonard Meenach’s direction, despite the content, was a solid result. The use of space on the stage was for lack of a better description how I would’ve done it. This is one of those strange occurrences in life where everything was done well, each line and movement delivered suitably but the results do not match up. A mystery of error that despite a great set-up just didn’t pay off. The concept was there. The arrangement was there but the laugh out loud experience I was building myself up for just didn’t reach the audience.



Naturally I still have faith in these students. It was clear they had worked hard. As I said there wasn’t consistency but there was, for the most part, humour. The Last Days of Judas Iscariot was not a show that blew me away but there was satisfaction in seeing it. As I expected, it was fascinating to follow the narrative of the piece. And besides, we all want to know what happens. Does Judas go to Heaven or Hell? I had to find out, and I did laugh at times while waiting. If you want to be tearing up in your seat from laughing too much, this production is not the show you are looking for. However, if you’re looking for a tongue in cheek observation on the theories that circulate Judas Iscariot’s life then The Last Days of Judas Iscariot is a play you should see.