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The Last Days of Judas Iscariot

4.31 of 5 stars 4.31  ·  rating details  ·  643 ratings  ·  55 reviews
From one of our most admired playwrights, “an ambitious, complicated and often laugh-out-loud religious debate” (Toby Zinman, The Philadelphia Inquirer)

Set in a time-bending, seriocomically imagined world between Heaven and Hell, The Last Days of Judas Iscariot is a philosophical meditation on the conflict between divine mercy and human free will that takes a close look a
Paperback, 128 pages
Published December 27th 2005 by Faber & Faber
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Community Reviews

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Set in a Limbo that resembles a fairly generic earth city, trials are held to determine ascension into heaven or to petition hell-bound placement. The primary action of the play involves the most unusual of cases to be reviewed, that of Judas Iscariot.

Judas's guilt is usually considered a given, but Guirgis has achieved a miraculous thing here: he has explored the actions of those surrounding Jesus's death and has somehow brought doubt regarding his guilt while managing to reinforce faith. Quest
Chanel Earl
Mar 01, 2012 Chanel Earl rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Chanel by: Mary
This is one fine play. I don't know if I have ever read anything that discussed a larger amount of interesting and important religious ideas.

What impressed me most, was how every character was so clearly portrayed, I felt like everybody who appeared in the play was complex and interesting, even if they only appeared for two or three pages.

I think my favorite character was Satan. He was funny and intriguing.

My only objection to the play was the language, which was profane. If I had been able to g
It's so beautiful. So moving, and eloquent, and heart wrenching, and funny, and sad, and uplifting, and downtrodden. It takes you to so many levels and emotions and you can't help but feeling like you've experienced SOMETHING afterwards. If you can't be in a production of it, see it. If you can't see it, read it. It's worth it. This isn't about religion or what you believe. It's about the beauty that is the theatre and what it can produce
After reading the script I wish I had seen the play. It's almost sacrilegious to hear characters from the New Testament speaking modern street language, but it gets across the idea that the followers of Jesus were just common working folks. The humor in many places leads into deep theological reflections that forces the listener to look at the Gospel message from a new perspective. Imagine Pontius Pilate showing up dressed for a round of golf! Or the Devil appearing in a Gucci suit. Outrageous!
I'm still buzzing about how Fucking fantastic this script was! The story was compelling, the dialogue flew, and I couldn't put this down. Not usually something that I would tackle as far as directing, but I'm seriously considering it only because I can't stop thinking about it. Very powerful, even for an atheist.
It's not often that a play humbly challenges your view of the world. Guirgis' play is well-crafted, fusing humor with obscure facts about well-known people from Benedict Arnold to Mother Theresa, forcing the audience to question their assumptions. Everyone should experience it.
Lorma Doone
You know, this play is ridiculous. Ridiculous in that it takes a special kind of person to write it. A person that's willing to look at the New Testament as simply a story, rather than gospel. EXCELLENT play - the last scene alone should be a 10 minute play all by itself.
Although he used the story of Judas, it's almost not that religious. Rather it uses the story as a lens to look at ethics/morality, the reasons behind why we do things, etc. I really loved this!
An emotional wrecking ball that forces you to meditate on the nature of love, free will and despair. Not for those with a faint heart or a guilty conscience.
Grace Turner
My faith in Jesus is deeply important to me, and I am also a highly sensitive person, but this play didn't offend me. Far from it. It is gentle when it needs to be, and bold and blunt when it can get away with it, and completely humanises biblical figures that I suppose I have never fully considered to be human before. Full of philosophical discussions and no clear conclusions, open to plenty of interpretation from the director. Not a pretty play, plenty of adult language, some racism, some sexi ...more
The ending broke my heart...a very interesting and well written play.
Hands down my favorite play, if not my favorite book
I've hesitated to give this play a ranking for the last few weeks as I've been meditating on its content. With that said, I'm settling on four stars for a number of reasons.

The Last Days is essentially a running commentary on a variety of Biblical and religious figures, as well as topics and events surrounding the betrayal of Jesus, by Judas Iscariot. It is many times insightful, challenging, and thought-provoking; it raises some excellent questions regarding the motivations behind key players i
M Christopher
One of those scripts that makes me wish I was still producing plays. Not the sort of thing that my friends at Taproot Theatre or A.D. Players could mount, because of the language, but theologically profound and deeply faithful.

What if a defense attorney in purgatory decided that Judas was deserving of God's mercy and should be liberated from hell? And what if Satan and his minions were just as determined to keep him? What kind of trial would that be? Who would be the witnesses for the defense an
Nov 07, 2013 Megan rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone +15 (depending on maturity level)
Recommended to Megan by: The Judas Redux Team
Shelves: best
I am a young reader, who until a year ago hadn't really read any plays, mostly just novels. Reading Shakespeare has been interesting, but not quite something I would actively pursue or spend free-time reading. I'd never really considered reading plays, only seeing them performed. Until I embarked on this unexpected spiritual experience in literature.

The only reason I read Judas in the first place was that several members of my favorite theater company are currently involved in a production of th
Tom Romig
Saw an excellent production of the play a few days ago put on by Forum Theatre. As with other of Guirgis's plays, the characters are raw, as is their language. Fitting here given that Jesus had a heart for the marginalized. There isn't one of us who doesn't need to be shown some mercy, some forgiveness. Many of the people in this courtroom, though deep in pain, don't know how to seek and accept mercy.
Lauren Wakefield
There are works of literature that are technically good, and there are works of literature that are life-changing regardless of the quality of writing based on the reader's unique perspective. I believe that this book has had such a lasting impact on me because it fits into both categories. The style and the content wrap the text into a compelling piece, both to be read and to be seen on stage, and I think that I discovered the piece at the point in my life where it would have the most impact. T ...more
Molly G
Have been avoiding even perceived proselytizing increasingly (tried the first five pages of [i:]The Last Temptation of Christ[/i:] recently and had to stop—though that might also be the Palanhiuk/Gibson/K. Dick Effect, whereby they capture a toxic environment so brilliantly and successfully it actually makes me too sympathetically ill to read) but this one is more expansive than sharpshooting and fairly rocks. I may use a monologue from it in the future, and regardless of whether I agree with it ...more
Chuck O'Connor
I loved the rumination on salvation that this play accomplishes by using the structure and archetype of the TV crime-procedural drama. Also, Guirgis's facility with character and his dedication to biblical history/systematic theology creates a mash-up of Shavian Philosophical argument with Bill Hicks's insight. The story is ultimately dissatisfying however because its attempt at theodicy rests on the "Free-will" argument for evil and, in so doing, climaxes with an indictment of the victim as sum ...more
Just a stunner of a play--the final moments alone will knock you off your feet. What particularly impressed me was the way Gurgis was able to balance the post-modern theatricality (a foul-mouthed St. Monica was a personal favorite) with some real bare-knuckled theological debate that forces one to use Judas and his situation as a lens through which to examine one's own faith life.
Fantastic script. Anybody want to get together and put it on? Only problem, all the characters are amazing so I'd want to play them all! Very thought provoking, well thought out, and in the end affirming play.
This ambitious epic of a show is as much entertaining as it is mind-bending. I will confess that there were aspects I didn't quite get until the second production I saw performed, but reading it a few years ago I was enthralled enough to find myself pondering its deeper philosophical questions on hungering deeply to track down productions so I could see if it stood on its feet. It does, even in a mediocre performance, and I find that each time I come back to this text different figures and theme ...more
This play really fascinates me; I think it's because I'm easily enticed by stories that try to make you look at what you know in a different light. I saw a rehearsal for it at the Liverpool School of Performing Arts last year. Three quarters of a year later, a lot of what I saw and heard stuck. It is intelligently written and the dialogue feels alive.

Certain things don't work quite as well for me: The monologues are often more tell than show, and while they give you more background, they don't d
It's so hard to review the text of a play, especially after having seen it performed brilliantly. The lines read as I heard them when I saw Judas in April -- but the test was whether it would stand up to scrutiny, past that fantastic, emotionally-devastating production. It's undoubtedly a play meant to be performed, but suffice to say: it stood up. Indelibly. It may become/have already become somewhat dated, but that's irrelevant next to the food for thought it offers, the judiciousness to both ...more
Part of the reason this was a bit disappointing was because the idea was SO COOL and also a friend recommended it and I usually take recommendations pretty seriously. There were some parts that were really interesting - like the Freud section and when Satan talks about how he loves God (sounds weird but it was good) but I couldn't get over all the biblical characters swearing left and right (I don't really mind swearing, it just didn't work in this case)and it was not my type of comedy. It felt ...more
An awesome script. To have the audacity to imagine the Apostles, Saints, Satan, Purgatory and Hell this way is astonishing. The farce is wonderfully written and every part, however small, beautifully crafted and fleshed-out. The ending could not be more perfect (I can say this as a Christian myself) because it knows how to be poignantly philosophical and tragic as well as hilariously comedic. I find it has much in keeping with my own ideas of God and religion, which suits me just fine.
Terrific play ... I love the sensation of reading a play and, upon finishing it, instantly plotting to get it staged by hook or by crook. Guirgis manages to use street vernacular as an inclusive tool. Once the initial shock of hearing (for example) Pilate say things like "Okay, then, I'm a roll out, now, boo -- work on my short game" wears off, you begin to understand the character not as a mythic figure but as a recognizable human being operating within a specific power context.
Recently saw a production. Instantly had to read the text, and unfortunately, perhaps the performance was stronger than the text upon which it built. Interesting perspective on these almost super-human characters, but I felt that it was disjointed, and lacked an extra something that could have made it great. Then again, I am being hypercritical because I may or may not have seen this play over twenty times in a week.

Butch Honeywell is the best.
A bunch of biblical figures cracking wise in anachronistic slang. There is ostensibly some kind of meditation on betrayal, loyalty, and sin underneath the clever flippancy of it all, but it's a challenge to detect it. It's mostly a bunch of silliness built on a thin veneer of pseudo-intellectual scholarship. Personally, I kept hoping for some new insight on an old story, but alas . . . it never came.
One of my creative writing students passed this play on to me, and I devoured it in a day and a half. I love Guirgis's off-beat, colorful writing style. Some of the dialogue had me laughing out loud, and a lot of the story had me thinking (and truthfully, looking stuff up, as my Bible knowledge is rusty). Good stuff. I want to read everything by this play-write, and hopefully see it performed!
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Stephen Adly Guirgis is an American playwright, screenwriter, director, and actor. He is a member and co-artistic director of New York City's LAByrinth Theater Company. His plays have been produced on five continents and throughout the United States.
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“Right now, I am in Fallujah. I am in Darfur. I am on Sixty-third and Park having dinner with Ellen Barkin and Ron Perelman... Right now, I'm on Lafayette and Astor waiting to hit you up for change so I can get high. I'm taking a walk through the Rose Garden with George Bush. I'm helping Donald Rumsfeld get a good night's sleep...I was in that cave with Osama, and on that plane with Mohamed Atta...And what I want you to know is that your work has barely begun. And what I want you to trust is the efficacy of divine love if practiced consciously. And what I need you to believe is that if you hate who I love, you do not know me at all. And make no mistake, "Who I Love" is every last one. I am every last one. People ask of me: Where are you? Where are you?...Verily I ask of you to ask yourself: Where are you? Where are you?” 14 likes
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