A very strange trial is about to take place in a town called Hope, located in downtown Purgatory. Criminal defense attorney Fabiana Aziza Cunningham has filed for an appeal on behalf of her catatonic client Judas Iscariot, who has been sentenced to hell for betraying Jesus. She will battle El Fayoumy, the prosecuting attorney from hell.
“Literally from hell,” says Courtney Lomelo, who plays defense attorney Cunningham.
Later this month, Gravity Players will present a pretty dang mental staging of The Last Days of Judas Iscariot. The full-length play in two acts by Stephen Adly Guirgis, which will be directed by James Belcher, takes place entirely in a downtown Purgatory courtroom. It will feature testimonies from folks high and low.
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“It’s a very interesting mirage of characters,” says Lomelo, who will go toe-to-toe against prosecutor El Fayoumy, played by Luis Galindo, to determine if Judas has any grounds for redemption. “Sigmund Freud and Satan are expert witnesses. Jesus is in it. So are most of the apostles, who aren’t in the courtroom, but you hear them talk from heaven and hell and in comas on Earth.”
If you think that this is another one of those so-called edgy productions that's out to slam organized religion, then you’d be off base. Lomelo says the play takes a considerate look at Christian ideology, albeit in a madcap manner.
“This play is a roller coaster of high comedy and deep seriousness. I would say it is a metronome of light and dark, comedy and drama, physical and spiritual,” says Lomelo, a founding artist of Gravity Players, which presented The Motherf*#cker with the Hat last September and October. “It crosses the line between theatrics and real raw human conditions such as forgiveness and despair.”
The Last Day of Judas Iscariot opens at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, August 10. It continues Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. through September 3, at Chelsea Market Theatre, 4617 Montrose. For information, call 281-892-1323 or see facebook.com/gravityplayers. Tickets cost $25.