La Codista - Edinburgh Fringe 2023
“La Codista” is a solo performance by Maureen Scholten from Netherlands. The piece is created around a true story of an Italian man who, when unemployed, decided to stand in line for others. Some details are invented. Codista means queuer. We all know the frustration of having to wait in a queue. Many cultures relish this. Others become agitated and fear that life is passing by. This piece is a reflection on slowing down, doing for others and ultimately, identity. Who are these people? This is a philosophic monologue, showing us that there is no time that is superfluous – it a condition for meaning, creativity and peace.
Apparently, we spend a total of 16 days a year in a queue. The existence of La Codista – the queuer - originated in Italy and there are around 650 people employed in this field.
On a bare stage Maureeen Scholten stands perfectly still for most of the hour. Under a bare strip of white light, the space feels cold and bureaucratic. She wears a modern (but classic) trench coat and clutches a briefcase. It feels as if we are thrust back into a time past – some kind of European film perhaps. This disconnect is deliberate as the metaphor is one of time standing still while in line. The impersonal, journalistic style text goes even further to create this impression. This character has a daily game plan and prepares for which ever job is at hand. She meets a range of folk in her profession and is aware of her. The queue becomes a place of chaos, misunderstandings, anger, questions, despair, boredom, relief, or simply relationships between human beings who are stationary in a space with a common aim: wait their turn. A humorous, political, absurd, and lucid reflection on identity.
‘I don't want to be the first, I'd rather be the last. The faster the world goes, the more I slow down. I go against the flow. Like a salmon. For a codista, the world is the other way around.'
Maureen Scholten is a captivating storyteller. “La Codista” is a masterclass of technique and proves yet again the wealth of experience on show at Edinburgh Fringe. Seek it out.