theater

Rutgers Theater Company presents "The Last Days of Judas Iscariot" through Saturday

Mother Teresa, Sigmund Freud, Jesus Christ and the Devil himself populate hard-scrabble Downtown Purgatory in Stephen Adly Guirgis’ 2005 play The Last Days of Judas Iscariot. The show runs from Friday, February 25 through Saturday, March 5, 2011, at the Philip J. Levin Theater. Chris O’Connor directs.

Judas Iscariot, perhaps history’s most notorious traitor who betrayed his friend Jesus for 30 pieces of silver, is re-tried in a present-day urban courtroom. The stakes: ending up in heaven or hell.

“The big question is: Did Judas get a bad rap? Does he deserve to be in hell?” O’Connor asks. “Was he helping Jesus? Hurting Jesus? If God is an all-forgiving God, why is Judas going to hell?” O’Connor says Guirgis poses these heady questions with “unbelievable humor,” offering up compelling arguments on every side.

The show demonstrates the consequences of mercy and betrayal, reminding us, O’Connor says, that “life isn’t black and white.” In fact, if O’Connor has his way, the audiences for The Last Days of Judas Iscariot will emerge from the theater grappling with questions. Theater, he says, can change us, “not so much because we’ve answered the questions, but because we are part of the asking. It’s where ambiguity and doubt stand nose-to-nose with certainty and belief, and this clash makes us feel alive.”

The Last Days of Judas Iscariot runs from Friday, February 25 through Saturday, March 5, 2011. Performances are 8 p.m. Wednesday through Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $25 for the general public, $20 for Rutgers alumni and employees and seniors and only $15 for students with valid ID. The Philip J. Levin Theater is in the Mason Gross Performing Arts Center, 85 George Street (between Route 18 and Ryders Lane), on the Douglass Campus of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, in New Brunswick. For more information about any Mason Gross event, visit www.masongross.rutgers.edu or call the Mason Gross Performing Arts Center ticket office at 732-932-7511.

Photo by Larry Levanti