“The Last Days of Judas Iscariot” – Stray Cat Theatre and “Coming of the Hurricane” – Black Theatre Troupe

This review aired on KBAQ February 20, 2012

”Last Days of Judas Iscariot” and “Coming of the Hurricane” Interesting and Well Produced Plays

Stray Cat Theatre, Tempe Performing Arts Center
Tempe, AZ


Black Theatre Troupe, Playhouse on the Park
Phoenix, AZ

Two interesting plays by two of the Valley’s smaller theater troupes are Stray Cat Theatre’s “The Last Days of Judas Iscariot,” an expressionistic fantasy by playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis that considers the fate in a Purgatory courtroom of sinner Judas that prompts an amusing but wordy discussion of disappointing someone and then regretting it, and Black Theatre Troupe’s “Coming of the Hurricane,” about an ex-slave and boxer fighting for his life and livelihood.

In “The Last Days of Judas Iscariot,” Nearly Naked Theatre’s Damon Dering’s delivers an outstanding performance as Satan.  But Dering is great among a strong cast that execute tough and challenging roles with finesse.  While a few other local actors join Dering, most roles are portrayed by Arizona State University MFA actors.  If this represents the quality of aspiring actors, local theater’s future is assured if these actors stay here after earning their degrees.  Director Ron May paces the play superbly as he nimbly guides a large ensemble through the talky, nearly three hour play.

And that is the production’s fault.  The playwright belabors and extols his ideas with relish but repeats them adnauseam.  A good editor could shorten the play considerably without lessening its impact or the fascinating tie between Biblical history and today’s life.  The play puts Judas on trial as many well-known historical leaders testify to two demanding lawyers representing the discussion’s two sides.

Dering is fantastic as he cleverly slams and bangs out Satan’s evil testimony.  His dialogue drips viciously with vindictive sarcasm.  The other actors handle tough assignments with conviction especially Adriano Cabral and Meg Sullivan who maintain fiery determination as the two lawyers while Louis Farber shines as the biased Judge.  “The Last Days of Judas Iscariot” continues through March 3.  For tickets, call the Stray Cat Theatre box office at 480-634-6435 or order tickets online at www.straycattheatre.org.

Grade: B


“Coming of the Hurricane” reveals the challenging adjustment and awful plight of ex-slaves shortly after the Civil War.  Crixus and Shadow Jack buy a white-owned mercantile only to have it burned.  Crixus has also been a winning boxer and he decides to fight the white Hurricane, always triumphant in such bouts.  Crixus puts on a good fight but Hurricane kills him to remain the winner.  Although David Barker’s fight sequence is the best I’ve seen on stage, this production drags with a poorly paced staging.  Kwane Vedrene is the perfect Crixus while Rod Ambrose’s Shadow Jack, an all knowing confidant who sees what’s coming, is artful.  “Coming of the Hurricane” continues through February 26.  For tickets, call the Phoenix Theatre box office at 602-254-2151 or order tickets online at www.blacktheatretroupe.org.

Grade: B