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Originally published Friday, April 6, 2012 at 5:31 AM

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Plays about the Beatles, religion and politics hit Seattle theaters

"Help" at Seattle Children's Theatre tells the story of the early years of the Beatles; "The Last Days of Judas Iscariot" explores the original betrayal; and "Death, Sex 3" looks at the current election season.

Seattle Times theater critic

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New Seattle shows on the boards ponder the early years of the Beatles, portray a fantasy court trial of Judas Iscariot and satirize the American political panorama.

'Help'

George, John, Ringo and Paul met as teenagers and went on to form the world's greatest rock band.

The internationally known, youth-oriented Dutch drama troupe Theatergroep Max devised this biographical show, focusing on the first chapter of four teen Liverpool lads coming together to make wonderful music.

Lennon-McCartney tunes are part of the live soundtrack for this Seattle Children's Theatre presentation of this "story about friendship, jealousy and ... an insatiable passion for music," featuring Dutch actor-singers as the Beatles. (Recommended for ages 11 and up.)

Thursday-May 13, Seattle Children's Theatre, Seattle Center (206-441-3322 or www.sct.org).

'The Last Days of Judas Iscariot'

Was Judas guilty of all he has been accused of in the New Testament? What was the exact nature of his crime? And what would be a just punishment?

In this freewheeling exploration of the ancient story of Christ's betrayer, hot New York playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis sets up an imaginary court case in Hope, a gritty downtown section of Purgatory. Lawyers and prosecutors, and witnesses ranging from Mother Teresa to Freud to Satan, weigh in during a multifaceted, contemporary debate on tough questions of faith, justice, guilt and redemption. Note: the language is R-rated.

Through April 22, Ghost Light Theatricals at Ballard Underground, Seattle (800-838-3006 or www.brownpapertickets.com).

'Death, Sex 3

This election season already resembles a clown show at times. And now Balagan Theatre's third roundup of short-shorts offers comic mockery of the current political circus from a slew of local playwrights.

Wayne Rawley, Matt Smith, Lenore Bensinger and others penned the nine 10-minute scripts in an evening which, the Capitol Hill theater company promises, has something to offend those of every political persuasion.

Through April 14, by Balagan Theatre at Erickson Theatre, Seattle (800-838-3006 or www.brownpapertickets.com).

Misha Berson: mberson@seattletimes.com

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