The scene is a small control room, where three CIA agents are closeted behind a two-way mirror, taping the offstage actions of a fourth agent, a young woman who is having a prearranged passionate liaison with a suspected drug pusher. Ostensibly they are gathering information on the narcotics trade, but as they swap anecdotes and information the fact of their own moral decadence becomes increasingly evident. The men represent three contrasting faces of espionage: One is coldly authoritative; another, an older man, approaches his work with humorous detachment; while the third, an eager trainee, is learning the business "from the ground up." When the fourth agent, the woman, joins the others, the play takes on a special urgency. She, beautiful and seductive, had been romantically involved with the two older men, and she now seeks revenge for their complicity in the downfall of her father, a former colleague destroyed by drugs. In the end, however, she cannot wield the power she has over them for she, like the others, has become too demoralized and depersonalized by her work to react effectively to the outrage she feels.
Highly stylized in concept, and haunting in effect, this remarkably original play draws a chilling lesson on the perils of bureaucratic decadence as it explores the minds and actions of three CIA agents spying on a fourth. "…hearing a play of Bell's is like watching roses open in a time-lapse film—a succession of short, intense phrases, each one calculated to hold the maximum of poetry, of action, of colloquial conviction and characterization." —Village Voice. "…a probing study of three CIA agents in various stages of character deterioration from the effect of their morally sleazy occupation." —NY Post.