Gate Theatre, London W11
Opened 6 August, 1992

Botho Strauss's fragmented, nonlinear p**tm*d**n dialogues are the perfect text for David Farr, a man who reaches for his pinking shears whenever he hears the word "story". On a very un-Gately (and unhelpful) set all primary, expressionist slabs of colour and the crazily-hung doors of the title Farr orchestrates glimpses of a series of the grim absurdities of contemporary life (a parking-lot attendant with an obsessive need to hire a bodyguard) and death (a self-dramatising suicide disappointed that the Void with whom he must spend eternity is such an irredeemably banal little man).

Through the madness wanders Horst Tietze (too laboured a performance from Brian Lipson), spurned by his wife after failure on a TV quiz show; chosen by a computer as the most insignificant man in the world, Tietze is entrusted with the vital parts of all the superpowers' weapons to hide in his cupboard and so ensure world peace. Paul Ritter contributes a fine clutch of performances, including his accustomed wry deadpan as the courier delivering the aforementioned widgets, and Barry Wallman understates to great effect as a deaf television interviewee and the Void. Strauss doesn't pretend that his vision is coherent, and Farr doesn't impose a misplaced unifying perspective upon things. Entertaining and unsettling.

Written for City Limits magazine.

Copyright Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.

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