(l to r) Craig Marker gets unwanted advice from James Carpenter and Jennifer Erdmann in MTC's staging of Bill Cain's 9 Circles.

9 CIRCLES, by Bill Cain, directed by Kent Nicholson. Marin Theatre Company (MTC), (In the Lieberman Theatre) 397 Miller Ave, Mill Valley CA 94941. 415.388.5208 or www.marintheatre.org . October 21 – November 7, 2010


Marin Theatre Company (MTC) is giving the 2010 Edgerton Foundation-Sky Cooper New American Play Prize winner by Bill Cain a dynamic world premiere. It is that same Bill Cain who wrote the riveting prize winning Equivocation that graced the boards on their main stage earlier this year. Where four of the players in that script play multiple roles, Cain uses the same device in 9 Circles where James Carpenter and Jennifer Erdmann do brilliant work switching to multiple characters as Craig Marker dominates the stage in a bravura performance.

In 9 Circles a teen aged American soldier is on trial for his life for an inhuman act committed during his tour of duty in the Iraqi War. Daniel Reeves (Craig Marker), after being honorably discharged, is prosecuted for the inhuman act of raping and killing a 14 year old girl during his tour of duty. Cain visualizes Reeves’ trial as a descent through the nine circles of Dante’s “Inferno.” Staged in the intimate Lieberman Theatre the audience is literally dragged into the gut wrenching proceedings. The journey starts with a battle hardened sergeant and progresses through commanding officers, public defenders, lawyers, preachers, and army psychiatrists who accompany him deeper into hell but who most often never return to lift him out of the maelstrom.

Cain explores the flagrant act of inducting troubled youths into Army service, the fighting of an unpopular war, the inequity of military/civilian justice and the horror of the death penalty. Kent Nicholson’s direction is perfect for the small space adorned only with cement square (scenic and lighting by Michael Palumbo) with the characters often changing costumes (Carrie Floor) on stage. But it is the acting that will grab you by the throat with a Tony Award win performance by the vibrant Craig Marker with tremendous support by Carpenter and Erdmann.

The one hour and forty minute play appropriately has no intermission thus maintaining a total grip on the audience. Be sure to become a member of the audience because this play is highly recommended. Check with the box office since Aldo Billingslea will replace James Carpenter.

Kedar K. Adour, MD

Courtesy of www.theatreworldinternetmagazine.com