The Last Days of Judas Iscariot
Presented by the Footlight Players Theatre
Feb. 26-28, 9 p.m.
20 Queen St.
Judas Iscariot is a pickle. The way the Gospels tell it, he handed the best friend he had over to be crucified, and he did it with a kiss. That’s bad enough, but here’s the worst of it — the friend he betrayed was no less than the Son of God. Not exactly a lapse of judgment you can smooth over.
Unless, of course — and some Gnostic sects made this argument in texts that weren’t voted into the Biblical canon — deeper consideration is given to the idea that without Jesus’ dying on the cross, mankind wouldn’t have been saved.
With that in mind, how much choice did Judas really have in playing out his assigned role? Ah, and there’s the rub: Play devil’s advocate for Judas Iscariot and soon after, we’re all wriggling off the hook between Heaven and Hell.
Inconvenient, sure, but wrestling with how much truth may be nestled away inside that troublesome thought is another matter altogether.
The Last Days of Judas Iscariot is a strange piece of theater. The questions it asks about one of the most reviled Biblical characters are really questions about all of us and how we account for ourselves. Our capacity for free will and our penchant for shrugging off opportunities to learn from our mistakes are weighed right alongside questions about God and Satan.
Satan (brilliantly played by Mark Gorman) has been taking the blame for “making” people do bad things long before hip-hop. So when do we start looking in the mirror after doing wrong? And when, finally, after recognizing that all of us are weak, cowardly, selfish, vindictive, cruel, or ugly to one another, do we start forgiving ourselves?
Linda Esposito opens the play as the mother of Judas, reminding us that even some of the most hated figures in history once loved, and were loved by, a mother. Caiaphas the Elder, Pontius Pilate, and Mary Magdalene (in a powerful moment by Dallas Corbett) all have their say. Some of the characters are at times bewildering and even outright irritating (in other words, a lot like the people we meet in life) to the audience and one another, but in the end, they still work their way through to some kind of resolution together. And maybe that’s all any of us can do. —Jason A. Zwiker