The Last Days of Judas Iscariot boasts twenty-three characters. It is a good script for either a large cast or medium-sized cast with actors doubling as multiple characters. The playwright does not specify a specific way in which the director must divide the parts. The original production assigned the roles as followed:
Actor 1: Satan
Actor 2: Gloria, Mother Theresa
Actor 3: Judge Littlefield, Caiaphas the Elder, Saint Matthew
Actor 4: Loretta, Mary Magdalene, Sister Glenna
Actor 5: Pontius Pilate, Uncle Pino
Actor 6: Bailiff, Simon the Zealot
Actor 7: Sigmund Freud, Saint Thomas, Soldier 1
Actor 8: Jesus of Nazareth
Actor 9: Judas Iscariot
Actor 10: Saint Monica, Soldier 3
Actor 11: Henrietta Iscariot
Actor 12: Butch Honeywell
Actor 13: Fabiana Aziza Cunningham
Actor 14: Yusef El-Fayoumy
Actor 15: Matthias of Galilee, Saint Peter, Soldier 2
Like in all Stephen Adly Guirgis’ works, the cast should be ethnically diverse. The courtroom of Hope, the setting for the play, is located in downtown Purgatory. It is described in such a way that it resembles any large city, particularly New York City, from which Guirgis, himself, hails. Therefore, the cast should reflect the diversity that would be found in an urban locale.
The Last Days of Judas Iscariot premiered Off-Broadway at the Public Theatre on March 2, 2005. It was presented by the Labyrinth Theatre Company, directed by Philip Seymour Hoffman, and designed by Andromache Chalfant. The cast included Sam Rockwell (Judas Iscariot), John Ortiz (Jesus of Nazareth), Eric Bogosian (Satan), Yul Vázquez (Yusef El-Fayoumy), Elizabeth Rodriguez (Saint Monica), Deborah Rush (Henrietta Iscariot), Callie Thorne (Fabiana Aziza Cunningham), Kohl Sudduth (Butch Honeywell), Jeffrey DeMunn (Judge Littlefield), Liza Cólon-Zayas (Gloria/Mother Theresa), Craig “muMs” Grant (Matthias/Saint Peter), Stephen McKinley Henderson (Pontius Pilate), Adrian Martinez (Sigmund Freud/Saint Thomas), Salvatore Inzerillo (Bailiff), and Yetta Gottesman (Mary Magdalene). The production ran for one month, and closed on April 3, 2005.
The original West End/European production debuted at the Almeida Theatre in London. It opened on March 28, 2008 and closed May 10, 2008. It was directed by Rupert Goold and designed by Anthony Ward. The cast featured Joseph Mawle (Judas Iscariot), Edward Hogg (Jesus of Nazareth), Douglas Henshall (Satan), Mark Lockyer (Yusef El-Fayoumy), Jessika Williams (Saint Monica), Amanda Boxer (Henrietta Iscariot), Susan Lynch (Fabiana Aziza Cunningham), Shane Attwooll (Butch Honeywell), Corey Johnson (Judge Littlefield), Doña Croll (Gloria/Mother Theresa), Josh Cohen (Matthias/Saint Peter), Ron Cephas Jones (Pontius Pilate), John Macmillan (Bailiff), and Poppy Miller (Mary Magdalene).
The Last Days of Judas Iscariot has enjoyed much success in regional theatre and universities. The diverse ensemble cast makes it ideal for large groups, and Guirgis’ humor appealing to both adults and college students.