By Lucy Komisar
“Judgment Day” is an enormously clever, funny, a bit profound play by Rob Ulin about a very corrupt lawyer, Sammy Campo (a terrific rotten-to-the-core Jason Alexander). How corrupt? He’s running a child-slave garment operation where kids get fed “healthy” paste, if they do the work.
Then he dies, or nearly dies, and is visited by an angel who was his Sunday school teacher (a delightful overpowering Patti LuPone) and tells him he will burn in hell, and worse. Except she jumped the gun, he wasn’t dead yet, and he awakes from the operating table knowing he has to change his ways or really burn in hell.
It is directed by Mathew Penn, who makes you forget that the stage has been replaced by movable zoom squares. And some smart line drawings as scenery.
Campo goes around figuring how to get “points” for salvation. Includes visiting Tracy (Justina Machado), the wife he left ten years ago because she was “fat.” Turns out she was pregnant and he meets the son as hostile and nasty as he is.
For points, he advertises for desperate people he can offer legal services to, and comes up with an elderly widow (Carol Mansell), about to lose her home for being late on an insurance payment when her husband was dying. The insurance agent (Michael Mastro) is a really corrupt guy, at least when it comes to compassion. Campo sets up a sex sting.
Mixed in there is a priest (Santino Fontana), who wants to help the poor and desperate but is distraught because he doesn’t believe in God. And doesn’t want Campo to use dirty tricks to help the old lady.
In between is a lot of witty stuff, and also talk about morality and Catholic theology with the monsignor (the perfectly cast Michael McKean).
Spoiler alert: Sometimes what one learns in the confessional can be a killer!
“Judgment Day,” Streaming online. July 26 – Aug 1. Running Time: 83 minutes. Tickets at Stellar benefiting Barrington Stage Company. Tickets are $11.99; purchase before July 26 with the code “EARLY” and receive a $4 discount. Trailer. Review also on NY Theatre Wire.