“Line,” directed by Geoffrey Chepiga ’02, is Sartre’s “No Exit” for the supermarket shopper.
The play, if it can be so labeled, begins with Joseph Yrigollen ’02 (Fleming) delivering a fire safety speech as an audience member holds his place in line. The “Line” of the show is a mysterious queue that is marked on the ground by a simple strip of white tape, behind which the crazed characters battle, scheme and even make love. From the moment the performance begins, surprises abound, and humor, tragedy and profundity creep their way onto the simple stage.
The acting in the show is unpolished, and the set and lighting starkly plain. The entire performance lasts less than an hour and half. The production centers around the actions of five normal people who compete with one another to gain the coveted first spot in line. Rachel Grand ’02 sleeps her way to the front, Michael Obernauer ’02 schemes his way there, and Yrigollen simply uses his brute force to make his way forward.
The characters interact with the audience, pushing their way through the crowd on their way to the stage and making viewers aware of themselves as they watch these five, who are just like them, struggle with familiar competitive urges. In a performance that starts out like a slapstick stand-up comedy routine, a few simple points about life emerge. When everyone wants to be number one, the audience learns, everyone can be number one. But no one really wins.
Grand is priceless as the adventurous housewife who sleeps with every man on stage, and Yrigollen is comical as the die-hard enthusiast who arrives to wait in line hours before everyone else. Charles Finch ’02 is distracting as Arnall, the cuckolded husband who never takes life into his own hands. Finch’s performance detracts from the believability of the play’s surprisingly tragic climax, as it is hard to understand his motivation. Dave Gandhi ’02 performed the only true acting out of the males in the play.
But acting aside, the performance should not be termed a play. Chepiga’s direction and setting creates a short moment of insight, a tragicomic tale in the tradition of Beckett where normal folks wait in line for a goal that is never revealed. The focus of the play is the waiting, rather than the goal. In this, the performance succeeds. It is just short enough, simple enough and easy enough to escape the restrictions of Yale theater and make its way into the realm of performance art. It is delivered, and should be received, in fun, with the audience and actors enjoying the ridiculous nature of life together.
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