From Publishers Weekly
Martin, an author and Jesuit priest, lifts the curtain on theater life in this account of his experiences as theological adviser to an off-Broadway play, The Last Days of Judas Iscariot
. It was the role of a lifetime for Martin, who had access to all the players involved in the production from the first readings to the play's five-week run in 2005. Although the play, which deals with the fate of the disciple who betrayed Christ, is compelling in and of itself, the way Martin combines the story line with historical detail and conversations with the actors, playwright and director is utterly captivating. Martin takes readers inside the play and into the minds of the key players, showing everything from glimpses into their spiritual lives to their reactions to the mixed reviews the play received. As a writer, editor and parish priest, Martin was obviously stage-struck by his encounter with the theater. But his transparency is sweet and refreshing, particularly when he talks about the ways in which the play affected him spiritually. His ability to translate and dissect the gospel story of Judas for a troupe of thespians echoes through his writing, making this a book that is bound to draw applause from a diverse audience. (Sept.)
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Martin begins his fascinating account of the making of Stephen Adly Guirgis' play The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, from conception to closing night, by admitting he began not knowing much about the theater. Guirgis recruited him in October 2004 to provide some background about Jesus and life in first-century Palestine. At the time, Guirgis was knee-deep in the play, which was soon to be produced off-Broadway at the acclaimed Public Theater. During the next few months, Martin got enmeshed in the collaborative process, providing information and moral support to Guirgis, befriending the actors, and engaging director Philip Seymour Hoffman in thorny theological discussionsall the while taking notes about the changes play, ensemble, and he were going through. His fly-on-the-wall account offers clear-eyed insight into contemporary American theater such as only a passionate outsider could provide. Martin, an ordained Jesuit priest after all, leavens the discussion with his research into biblical history and the various current controversies swirling around all accounts of Jesus, his followers, and his era. Helbig, Jack