Sunday, April 06, 2008

"I Adored Satan": Paul Morley captures my experience of seeing "The Last Days of Judas Iscariot"

Where to begin?!

Well, for those who didn't catch it*, I'd first send you to watch Friday 4 April 2008 Newsnight Review on the BBC iPlayer (still available for another 7 days) and catch the roundtable - especially Paul Morley - virtually worshipping the excellence of Douglas Henshall as Satan in "The Last Days of Judas Iscariot".

I can't say as I blame them.

The play itself is sprawling, erratic, over the top, emotional, streaked through with humour, theology, philosophy, history, social commentary, hip-hop and is utterly, utterly compelling for its three hours (including a 15 minute 'recess').

The cast is excellent and each deserving of praise (Joseph Mawle, I hope the hypnotherapy helped you stay on your knees without pain, since you are caught in a pose of internal despair for much of the duration). So even if it hadn't had Douglas Henshall in it, playing Satan (**swoon**) it would be a magnificent piece of theatre: with him, it's simply unmmissable.

Morley described Henshall as Satan thus -- "I'm gonna use this word advisedly: he's 'awesome'..." and it's hard to disagree. When onstage, he is totally compelling, mesmerising and full of wryly maleavolent charm.

His interaction with Judas is brilliant; his demolition of both prosecution and defence electrifying. In short, you really REALLY hope that someone actually rewards this barnstorming performance.

If Henshall does get more offers of work from the US, if he does take them up, we can only hope that he is enabled to retain his passion and fire for what he does: for when he is alight, nothing can touch him. I wish him success whatever he does - and for, as ever, being so, so delightful to me afterwards when I saw him - and I hope his happiness in life (on and off stage) brings him to the audiences he deserves. Whether all of those potential audiences will appreciate him - and allow him the freedom that enables him to truly shine - remains open to question (as ever, even some Americans doubt that the system there will let him be the best he can be). But I -- and I sure he -- live in hope.

In the meantime, get your asses to the Almeida. Go see The Last Days of Judas Iscariot.

And tell him I sent you.

* You may, for instance, I don't know, have been watching Jonathan Ross... an interview which was almost timed to the second to begin just as Newsnight review reviewed the Judas Iscariot play. Come on boys: play nice, I'm trying my best here...

1 comment:

chrissie_allen said...

Sweetie, was he wearing those nice cycle clips that he wore at The National...afterwards when you spoke to him???? and the cycling helmet tucked under his arm???...I'll go now.....