The Last Days of Judas Iscariot A Play

Stephen Adly Guirgis; With an introduction by the author

Faber & Faber



Trade Paperback

128 Pages


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Set in a time-bending, seriocomically imagined world between Heaven and Hell, Stephen Adly Guirgis's 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 at the eternal damnation of the Bible's most notorious sinner. This latest work from the author of Our Lady of 121st Street "shares many of the traits that have made Mr. Guirgis a playwright to reckon with in recent years: fierce and questing mind that refuses to settle for glib answers, a gift for identifying with life's losers and an unforced eloquence that finds the poetry in lowdown street talk. [Guirgis brings to the play] a stirring sense of Christian existential pain, which wonders at the paradoxes of faith" (Ben Brantley, The New York Times).


Praise for The Last Days of Judas Iscariot

"This ain't your grandmother's Gospel."—Charlotte Stoudt, The Village Voice
"Confirms Guirgis's place as one of our most electric young dramatists."—Robert Burstein, The New Republic
"An ambitious, complicated and often laugh-out-loud religious debate."—Toby Zinman, The Philadelphia Inquirer
"The Last Days of Judas Iscariot by the phenomenally talented Stephen Adly Guirgis . . . is an extraordinary play . . . Not since Tony Kushner's Angels in America have I seen a play so unafraid to acknowledge the power of the spirit."—Michael Billington, The Guardian
"Breathtaking . . . A profoundly moving look at the difficulty of virtue and the necessity of mercy in an imperfect world."—Elysa Gardner, USA Today  
"This expressionistic fantasy draws on sound theological doctrine to advance its soul-search meditations on guilt and redemption . . . Hearing [Guirgis's] theological arguments delivered in the rough idioms and unsophisticated accents heard on urban streets is to hear them loud and clear. In giving St. Monica the attitude of a hooker and St. Peter the voice of a dockworker, Guirgis is not diminishing their characters but arresting to their common humanity. A real jaw-dropper. [Guirgis] imagination is dazzling and his command of language downright thrilling."—Marilyn Stasio, Variety   
"The ambitiousness of [The Last Days of Judas Iscariot] represents a welcome development by the fierce urban dramatist of Our Lady of 121st Street. The two plays link in certain essentials: The gutter vitality of the dramatist's language is obscenely alive in the mouths of biblical folk, and Mr. Guirgis' generous heart remains with the damned."—John Heilpern, The New York Observer 
"Guirgis has made a name for himself as a gritty, urban writer who possesses both a natural intimacy with street language and the ability to make it sing . . . But to characterize Guirgis as a voice of the inner city might be denying his uncanny sensibility for language . . . The perennial saints and sinners who inhabit this play are given fresh and strikingly contemporary interpretations . . . The Scriptures have never read like this . . . The thousands of tiny gems within this play . . . keep the audience drinking in Guirgis’ mosaic and thirsting for more."—Peter Santilli, Associated Press

Reviews from Goodreads



Read an Excerpt

The Last Days of Judas Iscariot
ACT 1Darkness. Rain. From nowhere, a woman emerges from her past.HENRIETTA ISCARIOT: No parent should have to bury a child ... No mother should have to bury a son. Mothers are not meant to bury sons. It is not in the natural order of things.I buried my son. In a potter's field. In a field of Blood. In empty, acrid silence. There was no funeral. There were no mourners. His friends all absent. His father dead. His sisters refusing to attend. I discovered his body alone, I dug his grave alone, I placed him in a hole, and covered him with dirt and rock alone. I was
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  • Stephen Adly Guirgis; With an introduction by the author

  • Stephen Adly Guirgis is a proud longtime member of New York City's LAByrinth Theater Company. The plays in this anthology were all originally produced by LAByrinth at Center Stage, New York, and were directed by Philip Seymour Hoffman. These plays have also been performed at theaters in New York City, London, Edinburgh, Chicago, Australia, Norway, Finland, Chile, South Africa, and elsewhere.

    Guirgis is a member of New Dramatists and the MCC Playwrights Coalition, and has received new play commissions from Manhattan Theater Club and South Coast Rep. A former violence prevention specialist and H.I.V. prevention educator in New York City area prisons, shelters, and schools, he is also an honoree for The PEN/Laura Pels Foundation Awards for Drama. He currently lives in Hell's Kitchen.