La codista / The queuer

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.

Visit Show Website

Reviews by William Heraghty

Summerhall

Soldiers of Tomorrow

★★★
Zoo Southside

La codista / The queuer

★★★★
Pleasance Courtyard

Bible John

★★★★★
Underbelly, Cowgate

America Is Hard to See

★★★★★
Underbelly, Cowgate

CONSPIRACY

★★★

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

In times of hypervelocity and fear of missing out, what happens when we are asked to wait, to queue up? The award-winning actress Marleen Scholten created a piece on waiting, partially based on the true story of an Italian man that lost his job and stood in line for others. La codista is a tragicomic, personal and political reflection on identity and slowing down. Winner of the national Antonio Conti playwriting award, Italy 2020. Selected at the Dutch Theatre Festival as of one the best performances of the year, 2022.

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