Archive for June, 2016

9 CIRCLES

Posted: June 13, 2016 in Uncategorized

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9 CIRCLES

 

Proving that simpler is often better, Strawberry Theatre Workshop’s latest production of Bill Cain’s 2010 military drama, “9 circles,” is a wonderful example of how complex situations and ideas can be best presented theatrically with a minimalist approach.

Directed by Greg Carter, this most excellent play takes place in the round and uses only a long, rectangular table and a few simple chairs to bring audiences into the tortured world of PFC Daniel Edward Reeves (played brilliantly by Conner Neddersen), a soldier who has been accused of the heinous crime of raping and burning to death a 14 year old Iraqi girl as well as killing her family.

It soon becomes all too clear that Reeves is being used as a scapegoat, in many ways, by the military to cover up the atrocities that were carried out during the Iraqi war. He is portrayed as a pawn in a much more complex military cover-up that hints at the Iraq war being nothing more than an act of senseless violence with no real strategy or intention of ever truly being won. Reeves is a true patriot who believes in his country, in the cause of the war, and in the propaganda and dogma that was fed to him (and to Americans) in order to justify going into Iraq in the first place.

What is most brilliant about the play is how it does not give simple answers. On one hand, the actions carried about by the soldier depict him as callous and incapable of caring for another human being; on the other hand, the playwright (as well as the director and actor) does an excellent job of humanizing the soldier and showing the numerous, complex factors that contributed to his atrocious act. It is truly a very well-written, well-directed, and well-performed play.

Although the performance by Neddersen is certainly the primary focus of the play, the rest of the cast (which includes Norah Elges, Sam Hagen, and Sylvester Kamara) also does a great job in their performances as well. They play multiple roles, from lawyers, psychiatrists, lieutenants, and pastors, and very successful differentiate between them. Sylvester Kamara, in particular, was very effective in his dual roles as Army Attorney and Pastor, and I believe that this doubling of roles played by the same actor added an extra layer of richness and complexity to this already riveting story.

As for the technical aspects of the show (lighting, costumes, sound, etc.), things were kept appropriately minimal and functional, thus allowing the focus to stay where it should be: on the twisted tale of PFC Daniel Edward Reeves; and the intimacy of performing in the round and on a minimalist set was ultimately a very effective directorial choice.

But again, the star of this show was Neddersen. His performance in the role of PFC Daniel Edward Reeves was extremely touching and proved what a mature and talented actor he is. This is a production that is not to be missed!

“9 Circles” is playing at the 12th Ave Arts Center on Capitol Hill through June 25. For ticket information, visit their website at www.strawshop.org.