The weekend after Easter brought a modernized version of the story of Judas Iscariot, the “original traitor,” to Northampton Community College’s campus.
“The Last Days of Judas Iscariot,” written by Stephen Adly Guirgis and directed by Bill Mutimer, is a three-hour play set in an imaginary courtroom in purgatory.
The set was composed of brightly colored structures, that represented the courtroom, and was decorated with 1960s mod-style furniture. A lit neon sign that read “Hope Disco” hung above the set and gave off a glow that prepared the audience for the fun vibe of the performance.
The pre-show musical selections also set the atmosphere for the interactive, comical performance that followed and some of the audience members even sang along with the early rock classics that were played. The storyline of the play focuses around an imaginary appeal to God on behalf of Judas Iscariot.
Throughout the play, the audience hears from “witnesses,” either for or against Iscariot’s cause, in the form of monologues with some dialogue among the lead characters dispersed in between.
By the end of the play, the audience heard testimonies from Biblical characters such as Mary Magdalene and Simon the Zealot, as well as historical figures like Sigmund Freud and Mother Teresa. The piece is written with a lot of tongue-in-cheek humor and allows for really diverse casting.
The majority of this particular cast was Theatre majors and it showed through the high-level quality of the performance given.
Theatre majors Sarah Thatcher, who played Fabiana Aziza Cunningham and Matthew Gulick, who played Pontius Pilate, had incredible chemistry and it was obvious that they had worked together on past productions.
David Lippincott, also a Theatre major, was once again a highlight of the production. He portrayed the character of Satan with a debonair air. His seductive and suave appearance in comparison to his quiet, nerdier character earlier this semester in “Collision” showed the strong flexibility of his acting skills.
The props and other tech aspects of the show were above expectation when compared to past productions. The disco lights and sound effects added an extra layer to help the audience get an overall sense of Purgatory.
The costumes for many of the characters were phenomenal. Especially Sean Catino’s character Judge Littlefield’s Civil War-era uniform and funky white wig. The attention to detail paid to the minor characters’ costumes was noticeable as well and the audience had a laugh at Tyler Fernandez’s character when he first appeared on stage dressed in a Donald Trump campaign t-shirt.
The only major problems with the production were not due to the actors or backstage crew, but stemmed from the writing of the piece itself. While the performance started off strong, the dialogue dragged on too much. The energy of the crowd and some of the background actors, was obviously drained because of the length.
The ending was also written strangely and there was a bit of confusion among the audience until the cast appeared for their final bows. Despite that, the group seemed to thoroughly enjoy the piece and the cast was greeted with a standing ovation during the curtain call.
Although “The Last Days of Judas Iscariot” closed on April 22, the Northampton Community College Summer Theatre has their debut summer season beginning in June. More information about the upcoming performances can be found online at nccsummertheatre.org.