“The Last Days of Judas Iscariot” presented by Sound Theatre Company

Jose Abaoag as Judas. Photo by Ken Holmes

Jose Abaoag as Judas. Photo by Ken Holmes

The stage set is stunning! The play rolls back and forth between being incredibly thought provoking and very funny. The acting is superb. This is a big win for Sound Theatre Company and its director Teresa Thuman. But be warned! It is very long, over three hours the night I was there.

Here we have Judas Iscariot in Purgatory on trial for betraying Jesus to the Romans, the crime seen by most Christians to be heinous, unforgivable, sickening. It all takes place in Bryan Boyd’s brilliantly rendered courtroom (one of the best sets I’ve seen this year). And it’s made even more effective with Richard Schaefer’s lighting. The accused Judas (Jose Abaoag) sits or lies almost motionless in an open “pit” front and center of the stage while various witnesses are called to provide testimony that will help the judge decide whether or not to condemn him to eternity in the fires of hell.

This is not an easy decision to make. As the testimony comes forth the judge and we are asked to consider the ambiguities and complexities of being human. Keith Dahlgren is outstanding as the no-nonsense, slightly dyspeptic judge. Caitlin Frances as the defense attorney and Yusef Mahmoud as the prosecuting attorney are wonderful foils for one another. They play off each other with finesse. She’s uptight and serious, passionate about her cause. He’s a bit of a buffoon but a legal whiz.

And then there are the witnesses. What a collection! Shermona Mitchell as St. Monica blows the roof off with her singing and her testimony. She’s a presence you won’t soon forget! In contrast to her overwhelming life force is Eloisa Cardona as Mother Teresa. She’s humble (well sort of) and somewhat wry. And you won’t forget Ray Tagavilla’s Satan. He’s one natty dude, totally self confident. He’ll get the souls he wants. After all God gave man free will.

Among the other witnesses in this trial are Sigmund Freud, Mary Magdalene, Saint Thomas and many more. Each personality is carefully portrayed, and each portrayal brings more testimony to the case, more issues to ponder.

I wish the director had shortened the final scene. It is central to all the issues raised in the play, but its significance could have been equally powerful were it much abbreviated. That said, I rate this production highly—excellent stagecraft and acting, marvelous humor, thoughtful issues.

Through July 31 at the Center Theatre in the Armory at Seattle Center, Seattle, (www.soundtheatrecompany.org)

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