Theatre @ York will perform the 2005 off-Broadway hit, The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, an imaginary retrial of the man who betrayed Jesus, beginning Sunday.
Paul Muir directs fellow students from York’s Master of Fine Arts Theatre Program in this fast-paced, edgy courtroom “dramedy” by Stephen Adly Guirgis presented in the Joseph G. Green Studio Theatre from Jan. 23 to 29.
Left: Director Paul Muir
Set in purgatory, the play re-opens the case against the great betrayer, with everyone from Mother Teresa to Sigmund Freud brought to the stand to testify. First presented off Broadway in 2005, the play was remounted in 2008 in London’s west end.
“I think Charlotte Stoudt of The Village Voice said it best when she said: “This ain’t your grandmother’s gospel!” says Muir.
Notwithstanding the playwright’s irreverent approach, there’s a deep and serious undercurrent. Muir cites New York Times critic Ben Brantley’s statement that Guirgis infuses his play with “a stirring sense of Christian existential pain, which wonders at the paradoxes of faith.”
“In the midst of all its humour, profanity and darkness, The Last Days of Judas Iscariot delivers a message of hope that the world desperately needs,” said Muir. “The truth might just be that it is never, ever too late to choose freedom and light over darkness and despair.
“But this choice is not an easy one. In fact, it’s one of the most difficult and challenging struggles we face as human beings. How do we truly find our way to forgiveness and freedom when we are lost in the pit of self-condemnation and despair?”
Muir is completing an MFA in directing in York’s Theatre Department. He has most recently worked with Alberta’s Rosebud Theatre, where he directed Confessions of a Paper Boy (remounted at the Vancouver Fringe last summer), When the Sun Meets the Earth, The Homecoming, Salt-Water Moon, Crimes of the Heart, The Clearing and The Zoo Story.
Theatre @ York’s production of The Last Days of Judas Iscariot features undergraduates handling all aspects of production, design and execution.
The play previews Jan. 23 and 24, opens Jan. 25, then runs nightly to Jan. 29 at 7:30pm. There are matinees Jan. 26 and 28 at 1pm. Performances take place in the Joseph G. Green Studio Theatre, Centre for Film and Theatre. General admission $17; students and seniors $12; previews $5. For tickets, call the box office at 416-736-5888 or purchase online.