La codista / The queuer is a deceptively simple show about a woman who waits in line for other people. It is a proper job though, recognised by the Italian state. €10 an hour, rain or shine, and you’ve got to be prepared with sensible shoes and plenty of layers. And this show has plenty of layers.
This show has plenty of layers
At first it seems like an homage to Beckett as performer, Marleen Scholten, diligently does her time in the queue, flanked by invisible idlers that leave her isolated in the cavernous Main House of ZOO Southside. The queue becomes a microcosm for society, where Scholten revels in a routine of existentialist observational comedy punctuated by prolonged periods of silent waiting. There’s no doubt she’s a charming performer, only occasionally do you wonder where the time or the story is going.
There’s a definite attempt to turn the act of waiting into something noble, swerving from a sense of community to boomer-esque complaints about headphones and group chats that leave us more disconnected than ever. Underneath the archness there’s a hint that this is just a coping mechanism to justify capitalist exploitation. Scholten waits in the queue for those who can pay for it: she waits in line for people to buy iPhones and Beyonce tickets, she waits for them to collect prescriptions and she waits so they don’t have to put up with mindless bureaucracy. She’s paid to solve an artificially created problem.
At points it feels unbelievable. There’s no way anyone actually does this as a job. There’s no way this actually provides anyone with some deeper existential meaning. And then Scholten reveals the last layer of the play.
But if you want to know what it is then you’ll just have to wait and see.