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Nine Circles of Hell

Preview: staged reading by New Muses Theatre Company

New Muses Theatre Company continues to push the envelope as it did with the provocative Miss Julia last month. Photo credit: Niclas Olson

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From the fringe theater company that brought you the provocative Miss Julie and staged readings of David Mamet's Sexual Perversity in Chicago and Neil Labute's Reasons to be Pretty, comes 9 Circles by Bill Cain, another one-night-only staged reading performed at Tacoma Little Theatre, Aug. 16.

A psychological thriller based on actual events, 9 Circles tells the story of an American soldier on trial for his life. The young soldier - honorably discharged but then accused of an unspeakable war crime in Iraq - is forced to navigate a labyrinth of commanding officers, public defenders, lawyers, preachers, and military psychiatrists. The actual case upon which it is based that of former 101st Airborne Division Pfc. Steven Dale Green, convicted in a Federal court in 2009 of raping and killing an Iraqi 14-year-old girl and murdering her family.

As described by the company, this play is "shocking, mesmerizing and bitingly funny," and "a tour de force journey to a shattering conclusion in which the infinite size and tremendous power of a young man's soul is revealed."

The playwright, who is a Jesuit priest, based the structure of his play on the nine circles of hell in Dante's Inferno.

Denver Post reviewer wrote: "9 Circles is a brilliant play: dark, profane, provocative, profoundly funny in spots and disturbing. (It also requires an audience advisory because of the brief full male nudity that is neither titillating nor camouflaged.) It's demanding. It asks the audience not only to think and interpret, but to hang on every word ... "

9 Circles is directed by and stars New Muses Theater Company founder Niclas Olson as Daniel Reeves, Kait Mahoney as various women and an actor yet to be cast at press time for all the men's roles.

Olson says: "9 Circles may be the best script I've read in the past couple years. It grabbed me from the first synopsis I read, and after finally ordering a copy, I became a little obsessed. But unfortunately I couldn't find a spot for it in our mainstage season. But that's why this series exists, to tackle the shows we just can't fit in anywhere else, but need to be seen. I love that Bill Cain in writing this has simplified the war in Iraq into a single soldier's story. It isn't over-the-top political, it's just about one young guy who came home from Iraq and now has to deal with the things he did. And while Cain hints at the larger things going on around him, ultimately it's a single soldier's journey, and in that way, it's a very timeless, yet timely, story.

Olson says the company is "dedicated to producing intelligent, thought-provoking, and engaging theatre for a contemporary audience."

9 Circles, 7 p.m., Aug. 16, pay what you can, Tacoma Little Theatre, 210 N "I" St., Tacoma, www.NewMuses.com

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