The Last Days of Judas Iscariot
by Stephen Adly Guirgis
Richard Burton Theatre, Cardiff.
Directed by Michael Fentiman
The tale of Judas Iscariot is synonymous with Christian history and one that, religious or not, fractured the Christian faith and the bonds within it. It opens up a debate on what it means to be a sinner, and the hypocrisy of God’s love and forgiveness. For me, it was important that we captured the monumental aspect of the play in a way that didn’t take away from the importance of humanity. Projection was also spoken about very early on, and so the texture and appearance of the surfaces became another important thing to consider. The concept enforced the religious quality of light breaking through dark that is synonymous with religious spaces, and of the space feeling real, not theatrical.
Immediately, the decision to place the audience on stage was pivotal. Audience had to feel like jury members deciding the fate of something this important. Similarly, we accepted the walls of the Richard Burton Theatre and adapted them to feel like we were in an actual room. This then meant we could manipulate one of the walls so that effectively it could blow apart to create an ethereal outside space where memories and past historical characters could emerge. It enabled the use of architectural structures that could frame Judas and recreate his imprisonment using a series of vertical and horizontal lines, but could still provide the real, rooted world the play required to give its full impact on the audience.