9 Circles

9 CIRCLES by Bill Cain is a terrific play. A psychological thriller based on actual events, 9 CIRCLES tells the story of an American soldier on trial for his life. The young soldier is honorably discharged but then accused of an unspeakable war crime in Iraq. It’s haunting and powerful, well directed and has great performances all the way around.

As for the NUDITY — this production is only a 2. Sad face. From reading about this play online, apparently it was written (and usually performed) with full frontal nudity in two instances. However, here in this production, the lead character turns his back on the audience at those two moments. Perhaps a decision by the director? Or the director and the actor? Hard to ever really know. The character with the nudity is the lead and played by a young British actor named Josh Collins.

This guy is absolutely STUNNING. The photo here does not do him justice. He is tall and slender with dirty blond hair, beautiful blue eyes and irresistible dimples. He has a perfect swimmers body, spectacular ass, and I gotta say, his nudity from behind is worth the price of admission. (In addition, of course, its a great play, worth the price of admission).

After the first scene he changes out of his army fatigues on stage and goes down to fully naked. He stands far upstage (although the theater is very small) with his back to the audience. Then he puts on boxers and a wife-beater. He does the next scene in just the boxers and undershirt and as he riles around on the floor you can catch quick glimpses up the boxers of his balls (if you’re looking there, and we know you all are).

Later in the play he is shirtless for part of a scene. And later in the scene before last, he is supposed to take off all his clothes and bathe himself. Other productions talk about the full frontal nudity here. BUT in this production, he sits in a chair with his back squared off to the audience, again all the way upstage, and he takes off his clothes while sitting. Again, we see his ass, but harder to see than earlier because he is sitting in a chair. He slips on pants, gets up and then he washes himself in a basin.

As much as I’m bummed to not have witnessed the two frontal moments of this beauty — I did love this play and it has stayed with me. Well worth seeing.

PHOTO: David St. Louis (left), Josh Collins (right)

6 Comments

  1. Thanks for the review, have to say I read about other productions that kept the nudity intact and was very excited to see this play. Now I am royally bummed. Wonder why they put a kibosh on the nudity… if the actor was uncomfortable with it why take the role then?

  2. Saw this recently, too, & was crestfallen, to say the least, by the strenuous efforts to avoid frontal nudity, especially in light of the hotness of the actor. In the play’s production notes, the playwright, Bill Cain, writes: “If you can do the nudity, I request that you do.” The failure to meet this request might be twofold: 1) The production’s venue — named after Bishop Fulton J. Sheen — whose executive director in a signed program note repeatedly exhorts us to “pray” for our country, our veterans, etc. and 2) The almost palpable reluctance of the actor, who seemed nervous even with the modified nudity: He nearly tripped while taking off his white Jockey shorts in the first of two nude scenes, and shortly thereafter, while lolling on the stage in his super-baggy boxer shorts, he kept poking at them with his fingers lest anyone in the front row sneak a peak up either side (I caught a glimpse of a shaved, right nut). Moreover, at the performance I attended, the front row (AA) was removed, and everyone who bought a seat in that row was moved to the new front row (BB), composed of 10 hard-plastic chairs at stage level. If you sit in around seat 5 or seat 9, you might get a millisecond peekaboo up one side of the boxers, though that’s hardly worth a trip to the Far Side of the Moon (the lower east side). What’s most head-scratching is that the lead part is tremendously challenging & difficult — the actor is onstage every second for the straight-thru 100 minutes and has to navigate enormously complicated, rat-a-tat-tat dialogue with a flurry of other characters. Were a few seconds of frontal nudity one hurdle too many? If so, we are definitely in a period of regression for male nudity in New York theater.

    In related news/gossip: I hear from one source, but only one, that the nudity in How to Transcend a Happy Marriage is of an actress, not an actor.

    Could we get any hungrier for good news?

  3. Welq, to your question about whether frontal nudity is one hurdle too many when it comes to being the leading man who never leaves the stage and has to carry the entire play on his shoulders: Will Dagger did ALL that in “Pucker Up and Blow” last summer and fall. And his nude scene consisted of being force-stripped by one actor while verbally mocked by another. Totally committed.

  4. I really wish actors would commit when taking a role that requires nudity. If you are too afraid to do it, step aside and let someone else do it. There are more than enough actors dedicated enough to do it.

    It reminds me of that one play about the Renaissince artist from two years ago where the actor playing the male model jumped through hoops it seemed to prevent the audience from seeing him nude. Dude, why audition for a role that requires nudity if you are uncomfortable with it?

    Hopefully the actor they cast to play the hustler in Six Degees of Separation is ready and willing to show it off!

    Still, it sounds from the review that the play is still very good so I will still check it out!

  5. All that’s true, but would an actor without an Oscar, an Emmy or a Tony really have the clout to say, “I’ll do the play, but not the nudity”? I can’t help but think there’s another element involved here, like the venue & its sponsors prohibiting or frowning upon frontal nudity — which would explain actor’s anxiety over showing even a sliver of genitalia — or maybe the director, in rehearsals, seeing how uncomfortable the actor was with the nudity decided at the last minute to re-stage two scenes. In any event, I think in cases like this there ought be a program insert that reads: “This play normally contains nudity, but for reasons X, Y & Z we have decided not to include it.” After all. people who are squeamish about seeing nudity are always met at the theater with a notice, often tacked on the door of the house. Shouldn’t those of us who want to see the nudity get a similar warning, the same courtesy? At the very least, it would be novel, an innovation for an art form always on the lookout for one.

  6. I’ll bet the rent Six Degrees will include the nudity — it’s not Six Degrees without, and I saw the original, when nudity was a relative novelty. Would it be considered avant garde today to OMIT it? That’s too weird to think about.

    The actor playing the Hustler will be James Cusati-Moyer. Of course he has an Instagram account. Enjoy.

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