ICA, London SW1
Opened 17 November, 1992

The title is a deliberate misnomer: the grey-clad strangers with slightly flanged voices who enter the rooms of Margaret, Paul and Eileen neither physically remove them nor give them anything material. The visitees simply find their latent, repressed traits (Margaret's religio-sexual exhibitionism, Paul's sub-dom homosexual panic) unleashed, and in the end even Eileen's obsessive, defensive anality is breached. Whether or not these men-in-scarves are simply stress-generated figments of shared hysteria (as Eileen wants to believe), their appearances act as behavioural catalysts, through which the piece questions modes and structures of belief and conventions of conduct.

This is (against horrendous funding crises suffered by company Lumière & Son) a fully realised production. The design (three rooms side by side, between which the trio communicate by answerphone), sound score (semi-intelligible musical commentaries/prophecies by the visitors, reminiscent of Michael Nyman's The Kiss), Hilary Westlake's direction which, always attentive to the three-ring aspect of staging, alternately sets up independent actions among the trio and orchestrates unison dressing, undressing or even fidgeting – all contribute to an impressively cohesive spectacle. Whether, in the end, the core questions are given a palpable enough airing is a moot point, but this is a show where it's the journey, rather than the (not) arriving, that counts.

Written for City Limits magazine.

Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.

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