New York | 2h 45m | Already closed

The Last Days of Judas Iscariot

From 8 critic and 46 member reviews
Members say: Ambitious, Great acting, Absorbing, Funny, Slow

About the show

The Actors Studio and La MaMa present a revival of this provocative and irreverent comedy by Pulitzer Prize winner Stephen Adly Guirgis, directed by Oscar winner Estelle Parsons. More…

In urban night court in "Hope-a ghetto of purgatory," Judas is on trial for his betrayal of Christ, his soul left in the balance. A trove of historic witnesses including Freud, Mother Theresa, Satan, and Pontius Pilate deliver their testimony with raw honesty and scathing humor. As the play unfolds, we are forced to examine our ideals and ideas of love, divine mercy, free will, and forgiveness. This production marks the first time the play has been performed without double or triple casting, with an ensemble of 25 performers. 

Stage Buddy

"Not one of Guirgis’ characters falls flat, and each cast member performs his or her part with wonderful bravado. The action is so immersive that, in the capable hands of Parsons and her cast, 'Judas' feels more like an actual court case, with the audience serving as spectators or even jury-members, than it does a piece of theater...Complete with comedy, tragedy, and a great cast, 'The Last Days of Judas Iscariot' is a wild ride, full of constant surprises that you won’t want to miss." Full Review

Times Square Chronicles

“Thrilling…Suzanne DiDonna was vulnerably tough as Cunningham, the bodacious defense attorney who hammers the facts…Satan, played by Javier Molina, was seductively delicious as he smarmed his way through the courtroom with authentic street swagger…Kudos to the diverse casting and Ms. Parson’s direction—she encouraged a modern tone and freedom for her actors to fly...The three-hour running time felt more like an hour and a half." Full Review

Front Row Center

“A metaphor through which to examine the contradictions inherent in a religion that preaches both forgiveness and damnation...The ensemble cast is onstage throughout, stepping in as various characters, ably supporting the drama. Among the cast are several standout performances…One issue I have with the play is its length…I would also wish for more creative blocking and visuals…Regardless...‘Judas Iscariot’ is an excellent, if verbose, piece of writing well worth the seeing.” Full Review


“What of the play which had its world premiere at the Public Theater in 2005? Parsons' uneven production cannot keep this long play from seeming unwieldy. In fact, using so many actors is almost distracting as some of them are simply walk-ons, and disappear almost immediately. The new production seems less trenchant and more like a vaudeville with its set pieces than Philip Seymour Hoffman's original staging. Nevertheless, the play still retains a cumulative effect and is ultimately compelling.” Full Review

Theatre is Easy

"This excellent production showcases twenty-eight outstanding performers with very little doubling...Those interested in revisiting the betrayal of Jesus with an open mind are in for a provocative evening of theatre...Parsons succeeds as an acting coach more than a director, coaxing inspiring performances from each ensemble member, with less emphasis on the overall statement of the piece...The production outstays its welcome, as actors’ showcases tend to do." Full Review

The New York Times

"Ms. Parsons’s slow-paced revival never conveys the pain that’s at the center of the play...Individual performances often don’t dig far beneath the surface. It’s interesting, though, to see how the audience and the other actors snap to attention in the presence of a vividly inhabited character...Judas is not a giant role, but it is a crucial one, too blandly played here by Mr. Furman. The ache we are meant to feel for Judas in his isolation never comes." Full Review

New York Critic Blog

"The acting is quite good. Parsons has directed the show well, with a clear distinction between its thoughtful passages and its humorous ones...And so 'The Last Days of Judas' Iscariot presents us with a promising concept that’s not mined for its potential. Most of its characters are no more than cartoons. Its various ideas aren’t embedded into its concept and, with its obscenity and its insult to seniors, it’s offensive." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"Somewhere inside Stephen Adly Guirgis’ 'The Last Days of Judas Iscariot' is a compelling play about love and betrayal, guilt and redemption...'Judas Iscariot' will stick in the memory for all the wrong reasons– the uneven performances, the unsuccessful shifts in tone and the sheer endlessness...Esteemed director Estelle Parsons did not try to persuade Guirgis to revisit the script...The play is set in Purgatory but it’s the audience that feels stuck there." Full Review

Irreverent, Great writing, Intelligent, Seriocomedic, Great acting, great characters

See it if you enjoy well-acted "Dramedy" that challenges your belief system ; enjoy a wild ride with outrageous characters from the Bible and history

Don't see it if you are religious, you are conservative. You believe that historic 'icons' are above 'human' foibles

Also I loved this play! I enjoyed the hilarity in stereotyped lawyers, Freu... Read more Read less

Overrated, Quirky, Great staging, Great acting, Clever

See it if you like Stephen Adly Guigis plays. Well conceived but too wordy.

Don't see it if you have a short attention span. or get confused my too man characters.

Absorbing, Ambitious, Clever, Refreshing, Quirky

See it if You'd enjoy a trial with many colorful characters: should Judas go to heaven or hell. You love the hand of Estelle Parson's directing.

Don't see it if You can't sit for 3 hours even with an intermission. You have no interest in plays involving Judas.

Absorbing, Great acting, Edgy

See it if Good cast, great script done with simplistic prop pieces. The show is almost 3 hours long, so it needs to be edited.

Don't see it if You don't like religious plays that take liberties with plot. Also, 3 hours is a long running time.

Thoughtful, provocative, well directed

See it if if you like plays that engage you to think, and are familiar/intrigued by story of Judas Iscariot, as a lay person not a devout Christian

Don't see it if You dont like long talky plays that only work if you know the Biblical allusions. Or feel disappointed by less than perfection

Ambitious, Great acting, Refreshing

See it if you like great acting and fresh, relevant writing. There are some legendary performances going on here.

Don't see it if you want a full production with sets and costumes. This is very barebones with a focus on the acting.

Absorbing, Clever, Entertaining, Thought-provoking

See it if you like plays by Stephen Adly Guirgis. This deals with serious subjects but is frequently very funny. Some wonderful acting but some not.

Don't see it if Sitting on uncomfortable chairs for 3 hours is not for you.

Clever, Ambitious, Great acting, Funny, Relevant

See it if your interested in a very different take of Judas's story. Funny, excellent acting, lots of surprises along the way.

Don't see it if thinking is not something you care to do, or if you don't like to see "group think" shattered.

Courtroom drama in hell has fine moments. too long

See it if Guirgis's urban ear works well in Hell. Javier Molina's off-Bway debut as Satan is a perfect example of street language in modern drama

Don't see it if Some monologues are too long and repetitive. The foreman's speech at the end is redemptive but could be trimmed.

Clever, Entertaining, Funny, Great acting, Resonant

See it if great performances, humor, a modern take on a classic story

Don't see it if you want a big Broadway show with a big Broadway budget

Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Edgy

See it if you enjoy great writing and especially if you are a fan of Guirgis. Some strong stand-out performances.

Don't see it if it's 3 hours long and some of the 'witnesses' are a bit boring

Absorbing, Great acting, Great staging, Great writing, Profound

See it if you're interested in a fascinating, entertaining overview of the human condition via a trial set in a Christian version of the afterlife.

Don't see it if you need brevity and kitchen-sink drama.

Funny, Great acting, Intelligent, Ambitious, Epic

See it if You like avant-garde theatre, other Gurgis plays, the urban voice and a thorough examination of the bible.

Don't see it if Don't like long plays. Avant-garde. Irreverent humor questioning religion.

Ambitious, Funny, Slow

See it if I'm on the fence about this play. Had some great moments but I got bored.

Don't see it if You can't sit through 3 hours with lots of speechifying..

Absorbing, Ambitious, Slow

See it if You want to have a new and updated look at the biblical story of Judas' last days

Don't see it if You can't care less about Judas' possible fate ( heaven ? Hell ? ). It is a play witty at times but in the end in need of editing.

Ambitious, Thought-provoking

See it if Have interest and knowledge of biblical characters

Don't see it if If you haven't the patience for a long, play in need of editing.

Ambitious, Slow

See it if you've never experience Stephen Adly Guirgis' dialogue onstage, or are interested in seeing this production with a large ensemble.

Don't see it if you desire a well polished production

Also While a small number of this very sizable cast was exceptional, the pe... Read more Read less

Disappointing, Ambitious, Funny

See it if you're interested in Guirgas's work or enjoy imaginary trials of religious figures depicted as sassy, hip, foul-mouthed contemporaries.

Don't see it if you don't mind spending 2-3/4 hours watching an overlong, overstuffed play.

Also Fitfully amusing, this play makes some serious statements about forgiv... Read more Read less

Uneven, Indulgent, Ambitious, Quirky, Slow

See it if enjoy barebones, experimental theatre—uneven, 3-hour tale mixing biting-humor monologues & trash-talking with clunky distracting transitions

Don't see it if you have short attention span, need any set design or linear plot, or dislike gimmicky premise, irreverence, ample profanity, or large cast

Also Definitely requiring patience, the performance does have bursts of bra... Read more Read less

Great writing, Disappointing, Slow

See it if You're a Guirgis fan and it won't bother you if his incredible script is handled...less than excellently by several cast members.

Don't see it if You feel that a few very strong performances can't save a mediocre ensemble.

Banal, Bad acting, Bad directing

See it if You're fine with text heavy plays being presented in very simple ways

Don't see it if You prefer plays that are a little more creative and daring in their direction

Banal, Disappointing, Confusing, Excruciating, Edgy

See it if you like modern takes to traditional stories

Don't see it if you're expecting a comedy. This play is a drama with a few wise cracks thrown in, with too many characters to keep track of.

Disappointing, Slow

See it if You have had a lot of coffee and will be able to stay awake. Appreciation of Catholicism a plus.

Don't see it if You know nothing about Catholicism.

Absorbing, Great acting, Funny, Intelligent, Great writing

See it if You like great writing and solid acting

Don't see it if you like short shows. runs 3 hours with intermission

Absorbing, Clever, Dizzying

See it if you are...

Don't see it if you are not...

Cast & Creatives (33)