SUDS are back: The Last Days of Judas Iscariot review

6 mins read

The Stirling University Drama Society (SUDS) closed the curtains on Judas Iscariot for the last time in a successful run of performances at the Macrobert Arts Centre.

From October 10 – 11, SUDS gave three performances of Stephen Adly Guirgis’ The Last Days of Judas Iscariot.

A witty and satirical depiction of the story of Judas Iscariot, this modern-day courtroom drama requires no religious expertise.

Brig will be at the next SUDS show, this is why you should be there too.

The Plot

Condemned to eternal damnation after betraying Jesus, Judas of Iscariot hires lawyer, Fabiana Cunningham, to appeal his term to the modern-day court of purgatory.

Act two shows the steady decline of both lawyers as the trial proceeds and other characters have their input in the trial’s proceedings. Historical figures, such as Mother Theresa, Sigmund Freud, and Jesus make appearances.

Through a mix of flashbacks and testimonies, audiences piece together the story of Judas Iscariot and how he came to appear the chained wretch onstage.

The play could have easily been too confusing to understand, with so many intertwining characters and religious context. However, every character was presented with an easy to follow background story.

SUDS made this even more palatable with their unique costumes. Depicting purgatory as a junkyard, SUDS decided that their characters would’ve found their clothes during their time there.

Simon the Zealot, one of Jesus’ apostles, had found himself a punk get-up; Saint Monica found a polka dot dress and cowboy boots.

The SUDS Cast

It would be a lie to say that each character was not perfectly cast.

SUDS newcomer, Madelynne Kestner, embodied her role as Cunningham. Audiences watched her initially bold character be broken down throughout the court case, ending in a scarily realistic and poignant breakdown.

Satan, played by Iain Bayfield, catalysed Cunningham’s breakdown in a tormenting and charismatic performance.

It was obvious that Bayfield had fun with the role, especially during flirty back and forth with Judge Frank Littlefield, acted by Shani Doudet.

Madelynne Kestner, Shani Doudet, and Ian Bayfield. Image Credit. Paul Cowie
Madelynne Kestner, Shani Doudet, and Iain Bayfield. Image Credit. Paul Cowie

Audrey Linton had the tough job of opening the play with a monologue as Henrietta Iscariot, mother of Judas. She gave an emotional performance, and was the perfect contrast to the laughs the audience would soon be experiencing.

Eilidh Knowles, who played Saint Monica, charmed the audience with her Southern accent and confidence. She asked audience members to recite her name, and told people coming in from break to sit down.

Charlie Grant played eponymous character, Judas Iscariot. Grant carried audiences through Judas’ phases of childhood, drunken regret, and the classic eternal damnation depressive state.

Cunningham can’t be mentioned without the other lawyer, El-fayoumy. Tooqeer Choudhry was the perfect amount of vain, with two mirrors on his desk and an open shirt to showcase his pearl necklaces.

The cast truly made the show unique and it goes without saying that each actor added a piece of themselves into the production.

The Crew

Backstage manager, Ashley Nolt, has taken the role in her stride, especially considering she is just in Stirling for the semester.

She told Brig: “SUDS has been pretty fun so far. A bit all over the place, but fun.”

Directors Petra Hanusova, Phoebe Jenkin, and Eilidh Brown have also enjoyed the process.

Brown pitched the play and despite initial hesitations at the thought of a religious story, Hanusova and Jenkin quickly grew to love the play.

To get more insight into the rehearsal process, click here.

SUDS backstage manager Ashley Nolt with directors Petra Hanusova, Phoebe Jenkin, and Eilidh Brown. Image Credit. Paul Cowie
SUDS backstage manager Ashley Nolt with directors Petra Hanusova, Phoebe Jenkin, and Eilidh Brown. Image Credit. Paul Cowie

Comedic Highlights, Hidden Treasures, and Memorable Quotes

Pontius Pilate’s Roman soldiers were dressed as and acted like frat boys. Actor, Em Allardyce chose to get on their hands and knees to bow to Pilate.

Judge Frank left the stand half way through the play, to reveal fishnets and hot pants under his robe. Doudet also made the creative decision to have Judge Frank reading 50 Shades of Grey throughout the play.

El-Fayoumy shared a heartfelt flirt with Mother Theresa as she took the stand.

Cunningham, who announced her lack of faith, was wearing a Pentagram necklace.

Saint Monica, played by Eilidh Knowles, asked audience members to recite her name, and told people coming in from the break to sit down.

“She makes my organs bounce” – El-Fayloumy about Cunningham.

“Sexy vixen” – El-Fayoumy to Cunningham.

“Feed my lambs” – Jesus to Judas Iscariot.

What is Next for SUDS?

SUDS will continue their weekly workshops for members. However, Stirling will have to wait until next semester to see which play they will perform next.

Check out their Instagram and website for more information.

Long story short, SUDS handled a difficult production with ease and had fun doing it. The audience were literally roaring with laughter throughout.

If you missed this one, experience it vicariously through these photos. In house SUDS photographer (and drunk uncle Pino in the play) Paul Cowie can be credited for these.

Featured Image Credit. Instagram @Paulandrewcowie

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Third year English and Journalism student at the University of Stirling πŸ™‚

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