When a U.S. soldier commits an atrocity overseas, Americans tend to respond in predictable ways. Some attempt to excuse the soldier, talking about the fog of war, the split-second decisions the forces are required to make, the inevitability of mistakes. Others speak of moral responsibility and culpability, no matter what stresses the GIs face. And many fault a system that recruits at least some young men who are unstable or unfit for combat, along with the government that sends them into unjust wars. Playwright Bill Cain is aware of all these arguments -- and they get a workout in his passionate 9 Circles. He uses one of the most horrifying crimes committed in Iraq as his theme: the rape and murder of a fourteen-year-old girl, along with the murder of her six-year-old sister and her parents. This event had been coldly and specifically planned by a group of GIs, and the primary perpetrator, Steven Green, was a known racist who admired Hitler and frequently said all Iraqis should be killed. Cain, a Catholic priest, modeled his protagonist on Green, and used the nine circles of Dante's Inferno -- the most famous depiction of a soul's growing understanding of sin and journey toward God -- to shape this piece about the man's psychological descent.
The play opens tonight at 8 p.m. at Curious Theatre Company, 1080 Acoma Street, where it will run through February 18. For a complete schedule and ticket information, call 303-623-0524 or go to www.curioustheatre.org.
Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Starts: Jan. 12. Continues through Feb. 18, 2012