‘Judas’ is worth the 30 pieces of silver

‘The Last Days of Judas Iscariot’ featured a litany of modernized versions of the characters from the original biblical tales of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion.
‘The Last Days of Judas Iscariot’ featured a litany of modernized versions of the characters from the original biblical tales of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion.

“No parent should have to bury their child.”

But what if that child was one of the most hated men in history? What if that child’s name was synonymous in some religions with traitor?

“No mother should have to bury her son.”

But what if that son was Judas Iscariot?

All College Theatre’s performance of “The Last Days of Judas Iscariot,” performed on the Kendall Hall Main Stage from Oct. 4-6, didn’t make a plea for Judas, nor did it condemn him. Instead, the play, which revolved around Judas’s trial in purgatory, presented the facts of Judas’s life and left his ultimate fate up to the audience.

Who was Judas Iscariot? That depends on who is asked. To his mother, junior English and secondary education double major Bree Florek, he was a boy who might have sold his family’s food for a toy, but who also gave that toy to a boy less fortunate than him. To Thomas (some might know him better with the adjective “doubting” attached), freshman history and philosophy double major Zachary Elliot, Judas was a “dick,” but one who covered for him when he was unable to heal the sick. Witness accounts showed Judas in a startlingly human light: as a loyal man who had his flaws, much like anyone. The only difference is that Judas’s mistakes had a far greater consequence.

At the heart of the play was junior English and secondary education double major Jaclyn Trippe, senior biology major Dan Loverro and fifth-year senior psychology major John Eldis — the defense lawyer, prosecution lawyer and judge, respectively — who use the trial as a way to work through their own sins. After all, they too are in purgatory, and have pasts that must be contended confronted.

As this synopsis shows, “The Last Days of Judas Iscariot” is not a lighthearted show. It had its funny moments, of course, but even many of those were steeped in melancholy — bitter, vulgar and heartbreaking. The fact that audiences were left feeling this way, however, is a compliment to, not a complaint about, the cast. This play required real, raw emotion, not pouting and stage tears, and every actor who took the stage delivered.

As Judas, Anthony Coppola was amazingly relatable, bringing real depth and sympathy to the character. His scene in a bar with Satan was surprisingly natural — most actors overplay drunk scenes, but Coppola perfectly captured the attitude of a man drinking to forget his sins without veering into the ridiculous. His final scene with Jesus, played by junior history major Jacob Cafaro, was tragic enough to cause even the sternest believer to feel sorry for Judas.

The rest of the cast more than held their own against the play’s namesake. Eldis, playing a number of roles besides Judge Littlefield, shined as Caiphas, who must defend himself against Trippe’s accusations. As the sassy Saint Monica, sophomore English major Carly DaSilva was hilariously feisty, taunting the comatose Judas with lines like, “Got change for 30 pieces of silver, motherfucker?”

She proved she wasn’t all ripped fishnets and cigarettes, however; she was capable of being surprisingly tender to Judas, a maternal shoulder to cry on. Senior history major Thomas Hoesly’s Butch Honeywell,  a juror who only recently realized he had died, confides in a comatose Judas that he had cheated on his beloved wife, a moment that struck a deeply realistic chord and brought the play back into the present day.

The real star of the show, however, was junior computer science major Graham Mazie as Satan, or “Lu” as he was often referred to. Mazie was perfect in his dark suit and slicked back hair, nursing a drink and calmly wreaking verbal havoc on the court. When on stage, it was impossible not to focus on him — he had all the charm and charisma of the Devil himself. Like Coppola’s Judas, Mazie’s Satan is meant to cause audiences to reevaluate the way they view Old Scratch, who might not be a bad guy, just a cruelly truthful one.

No show is without its flaws, of course, but for the most part the problems were technical. With only hanging mics to help them, the actors were forced to project more than they would with personal mics, making it difficult to understand everyone at times. In scenes that involved yelling, it was often hard to make out exactly what was being said. Loverro was hilarious, but the thick accent he employed sometimes made it impossible to make out his jokes. Again, all of these problems were not totally the actors’ faults; they had to make the best with the equipment that they had, and it fell flat at times.

At the end of the play, Judas is found guilty. He is left motionless on the stage as Jesus begins washing his feet. As the stage goes black, audiences are allowed to decide for themselves whether or not one of the greatest traitors in history deserves his title. Is there forgiveness for all? More importantly, for what does Judas truly need to be forgiven for?