With no one cracking the whip over famed LAByrinth Theater Company procrastinator Stephen Adly Guirgis or his wildly ambitious, era-melding show about a trial in purgatory, at which fifteen actors play roughly twice as many characters from biblical times through the present day, what you get is nearly three hours of chaos.
Plenty of it is fun chaos. Eric Bogosian slimes it up as Satan. Guirgis’s famous high-low language confections (at last, Tupac meets Saint Augustine, and dick jokes meet Thomas Merton’s Seven Storey Mountain) frequently score. And there are plenty of clever little jokes: When Judas’s prosecutor, Yusef El-Fayoumy (a charming Yul Vázquez; think Antonio Banderas on speed), accidentally calls witness Sigmund Freud “Fried,” he says, “Forgive me, I made a you-slip.”
But too much is just chaos-chaos. Granted, directing Guirgis’s hyperactive plays must be maddening, but Philip Seymour Hoffman, also the company’s co-artistic director, makes some bizarre staging choices. For example, actors use all three levels of the space, but often deliver lines while changing clothes in the dark or climbing up and down ladders. Not to mention the fact that Sam Rockwell, playing the title character, had to call for a line at a press night in the third week of previews.
Fans of the process-oriented company often enjoy such sloppiness because it lets them see behind the scenes. But at $50 a ticket, LAB might eventually want to put forth a finished product.
The Last Days of Judas Iscariot
At The Public Theater through April 3.