'YOU have to interpret the irrelevant bits too,' says the increasingly frustrated London detective Ignatius halfway through Simon Stephens' unsettling but strangely compelling Three Kingdoms.
His growing sense of alienation as his investigations lead him ever deeper into the murky and, in this case, increasingly surreal world of the European sex trade is one the audience can understand.
After all, the play is performed in a mixture of English, German and Estonian, with translations displayed on a light-box above the stage.
As if that wasn't enough, characters emerge from suitcases and rooms suddenly shift 90 degrees in this dream-like world - part David Lynch, part Alice in Wonderland with added nudity and swearing.
But what is a nightmare journey for Ignatius is a mind-bending but ultimately enjoyable three hours for everyone else as the tale unfolds in a mixture of dance and song.
Three Kingdoms begins as a basic detective story, with the discovery of a severed head in the Thames, but soon expands into an exploration of the European sex trade and eventually a look at language and human connections.
The opening scene, in which two hard-boiled detectives quiz a confused and scared youngster, does not bode well. The dialogue is formulaic and too many wise-cracks fall wide of the mark.
It is only once events take a turn for the surreal that things become more interesting and you're drawn into the sadomasochistic rabbit hole.
As the investigation leads Ignatius and his college to Germany and then Estonia, it soon becomes clear the mysterious 'White Rabbit' is key to solving the case.
Less clear is exactly who or what White Rabbit is, or whether he/she even exists. If you've come expecting answers, you're going to be disappointed.
Stephens' study of disconnection, cleverly punctuated with silences and repetition, is well handled by director Sebastian Nübling.
Between them they create a hallucinogenic world, in which you're never sure what's real, studded with dry humour and imaginative adaptations of songs like Chris Isaak's Wicked Game and PJ Harvey's The Last Living Rose.
Part of the World Stages London festival, which has seen eight theatres across the capital link up with actors, writers and detectives from across the globe, Three Kingdoms examines and challenges our perceptions of different countries but has a lot of fun doing so.
While some are bound to be disappointed by the ending, like the theatrical equivalent of popping candy, Three Kingdoms is engrossing throughout and leaves your mind buzzing.
Three Kingdoms is at the Lyric Hammersmith until May 19. Tickets, priced £12.50-35, are available at www.lyric.co.uk or from the box office on 0871 2211 729.