Gospel of Judas

Gospel of Judas
Opened: 5 September 2009 Thalia Theater Hamburg, Germany
Running Time: 2 hrs 10 mins

"For you will sacrifice the man I clothed myself with."

Jonas P. Lang, a theatre director at the peak of his career, cannot do anything with his own company. Nor can he handle the fame that came too suddenly along with a government award. He is in a crisis. He feels success is killing him, so he tells the actors who have come to celebrate his award that is disbanding the company.

In his direction, Kornél Mundruczó redefines the relationship of traitor and master, and he closely examines the inevitable questions surrounding the theme: Who is a traitor? Who needs a traitor? Who assumes the role of traitor, and why?

From the reviews

"The scene of conflict is the starting point in this grotesque written by Kornél Mundruczó and Yvette Bíró. (…) The audience arrives at an apartment. Some go to the living room, others are seated in the bathroom or the kitchen. We follow the events happening in the modest, jam-packed apartment either live or on screens where the camerawork is projected. (…) Jonas lives here with his Hungarian mother, an ex-film star played by the captivating Lili Monori, and his stepfather, who is killed in the course of the night. Events only accelerate until we reach the theme, the Gospel of Judas, according to which Jesus asked Judas to betray him. In both cases, love lurks behind betrayal. Still, before we reach this point, Mundruczó lets us take a look into the lives of the characters. He shows how they torment each other and bluntly relates the personal tragedies of these irritatingly everyday people. (…) In the constant flux of film and theatre, Mundruczó has crossed a completely new border with the directness of his staging." (Frauke Hartmann - Frankfurter Rundschau)


"A mystery play? Crime story? Sociological drama? Or all these in one? (…) The engaging story is presented in the style of the dogma films and takes place in three locations – the living room, the bathroom, and the kitchen. (…) Screens and cameras ensure that we don’t miss a second of the action. (…) We see clearly what is happening in the different rooms. The camera records it all with cruel honesty, showing us the bare reality while avoiding any arty sophistication." (Monika Nellissen - Die Welt)


"The audience observes the perfectly realistic scenes extremely up close. The set designed by Márton Ágh is absolutely realistic: dirty dishes and personal belongings all over. A cosy disorder rules inside the house. Although the play is a work of art, Kornél Mundruczó – as much as possible – avoids making art, and this gives the performance its strength." (Kieler Nachrichten)


"There is a group dynamic and spiritual striptease onstage (…) a murder and someone who takes the deed upon himself. All this is presented from a very unusual perspective." (Hamburger Morgenpost)


"Tilo Werner plays the Hungarian-German theatre director with an ease and directness. Why not? We are sitting in his apartment (…) where the 40-year-old Jonas lives with his parents. He wishes to direct a play based on Heinrich von Kleist’s The Earthquake in Chile here, in this apartment at the peak of his career. While he tells us about this, the company of actors arrives. The six actors have come to celebrate. They bring flowers, drink champagne, and eat cake. However, Jonas is in crisis. He has lost his creativity due to success. (…) At the spur of the moment, he cancels the rehearsal and the premiere and dismisses the company. The actors are astonished by the announcement. They feel utterly lost, seeking answers and reasons. They are uncomprehending and cynical. The only exception is Kristina (Gabriela Maria Schmeide), the girlfriend and/or lover of Jonas. She is the only one who tries to understand the director before the other members of the company take individual action. Kornél Mundruczó relates these strange encounters as bald facts, and rather incidentally. It gives rise to partly funny, partly embarrassing scenes which are further magnified by the voyeuristic perspective of the camera. (…) Then, at a certain point, a stranger kills Jonas’s father, and his mother goes mad. Jonas takes the murder upon himself, asking Kristina to report him to the police. A kiss, a promise, and the goal is within reach. The production examines the question of guilt and betrayal based on the recently discovered Gospel of Judas." (Katrin Ullmann - nachtkritik.de)


"The Gospel of Judas is a play where the continuously debated distance between the audience and the actors is reduced to zero. There is no auditorium; the actors invite us in into an apartment. The events take place literally at our feet, and we can simultaneously follow what is happening in the other rooms on screens. We, as prisoners of the media age, are unable to decide which is more authentic. The enchantingly virtuoso performance, which exists on two planes, is capable of deceiving us, and it is only further complicated by the fact that the play is a play within a play. At the end of the evening, the spectators rewarded this virtuosity with massive applause." (Manfred Lahnstein)

Franz - Julian GreisVeronika - Franziska HartmannGregor - Matthias LejaViktória - Lili MonoriMax - Thomas NiehausWerner - Axel OlssonSaid - Andreas PattonKristina - Gabriela Maria SchmeideJonas - Tilo WernerHomeless - Gabriel MunozPolicewoman - Samantha HöferPoliceman - Christopher Arndt