Really, Judith

A Colin Wright

Really, Judith
2 November 2021

Really, Judith

A Colin Wright

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The Play A theatre company is workshopping the apocryphal story of Judith, the Israelite woman who uses her beauty to gain admittance to the tent of the invading Babylonian general, Holofernes, to kill him. The actors, however, turn out to be reincarnations of the characters in the Apocrypha: Judith of the biblical Judith; Harold (the workshop director) of Holofernes; and Judith's pedantic husband Maurice (the playwright) as the reincarnation of Judith's biblical husband, Menasseh. Judith and Harold are trying to discover if the story is true by improvising, while Maurice wants the play performed his way. In the reinterpreted version, Judith turns out to be desperately and sexily in love with Holofernes, going to him out of desire but aware that she must forever remain ritually pure. Both know they are playing a part, from which they cannot escape because of the conventions of their own society. The scene where Judith is supposed to kill Holofernes turns out differently from the traditional story in that Judith's triumph according to the Bible, where she is acclaimed by all, is the moment of her greatest tragedy.

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