BY Jacquelyn Gonzalez
“The Last Days of Judas Iscariot” premiered on Friday in the Black Box theatre, bringing forth a roller coaster of emotions from audience members and causing them to re-evaluate their own faith and morals.
Written by professional playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis and directed by East Los Angeles College’s Rodney Lloyd Scott, the play focuses on the character of Judas and what his intentions might have been when he betrayed Christ after his three-year journey by his side.
Unable to defend his case, a comatose Judas, played by Mario Valdez, has his mother Henrietta, played by Priscilla Buelna, along with his lawyer Fabiana Aziza Cunningham, played by Marissa L. Ruiz, at his defense.
Cunningham, an Irish-Gypsy New-Yorker now residing in Purgatory, is a prideful woman with a broken past who doubts the existence of God.
On the opposing end is attorney Yusef El-Fayoumy, played by Joe Robert Mejia.
Yusef is at the defense of God and the Kingdom of Heaven and Earth.
El-Fayoumy, an Egyptian claiming to know a thing or two about being a lawyer, is an over-the-top flirtatious man who tries to use his charm to manipulate the testimonies of the witnesses.
He temporarily resides in Hell due to the Americanization of the afterlife and a delay in his paper process.
The set, completely designed by Theater Arts Department students depicts Purgatory, run by Judge Littlefield, played by Rhys Gillett.
After Cunningham’s continual insistence, going as far as to get a writ signed by God, an irritated Judge Littlefield finally agrees to open Judas’ case.
The first witness called to the stand truly tugs at the hearts of the audience.
A grieving and sorrowful Henrietta Iscariot reflects back to her son’s childhood and the moment she was most proud to be his mother.
She insists that her son was not naturally a selfish person, but the many witnesses following strive to prove otherwise.
The play evokes various emotions such as empathy, humor, compassion, hope and even shock.
Because the setting is in a court room, the audience’s minds, morals and values are challenged.
Aside from Henrietta, viewers listen to the testimonies of a diversity of people.
The wisdom of Mother Teresa, a Roman-Catholic missionary played by Cristina Carillo-Doño, is challenged by Cunningham.
This scene seemed to shock most audience members, because she is considered to be one of the holiest of women by the Catholic community.
Evan Garcia does an outstanding job of playing both Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, and Pontius Pilate, the fifth prefect of the Roman province of Judea.
While boastful Freud and hot-tempered Pilate are both against the idea of Judas’ innocence, their personalities and accents differ drastically from one another.
Satan’s charming and deceitful nature is also captured perfectly by professional actor Durant Fowler.
Throughout the performance, the fourth wall is broken by characters such as St. Monica, played by Barrie Brown, and Gloria, an angel from heaven played by Raeya Young.
Both of these characters give the audience insight on ideas that they may otherwise not have considered.
Also breaking the fourth wall is Jesus of Nazareth, played by Jesus Betancourt.
This scene, possibly the most powerful of all, shows a very strong interaction between Christ and Judas.
The scene provokes a rollercoaster of emotions that could only be understood while watching the show, live.
Tickets for future performances as well as show times and dates are available on the ELAC website under “Upcoming Events.”
The general admission ticket price is $10.
A $2 discount is available to ASU students and can be redeemed in room P2-101B.
Tickets may also be purchased at the door for $12.