According to conventional pessimism, life amounts to waiting in line for death, and the plot of The Queue drops us into a small segment of that waiting, the intolerable hour and a half at the airport that precedes an international flight. The morbid quality of this particular queue becomes blatant when the three main characters turn out to be the distant, disinherited heirs of a wealthy uncle they’re trying to meet before he dies.
The mood doesn’t dip into melancholy, however, because The Queue is also an absurdist comedy, its terminal end poised over the abyss. And Lucky Plush artistic director Julia Rhoads complements the comedy with a dance informed by slapstick, whose own comic principle is obstructed bodies. Like the elegant and refined physical humor of Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times or Jacques Tati’s Playtime, the movement ticks along nonstop with perfect alignment and rhythm, ravishingly self-aware and just a little coy. It’s also very funny, and very surreal.
That surreality is sustained by the dancers’ reluctance to commit to the normal logic of interactions. When a male couple falls into a heated argument, the pair fail to notice a dancer stuck between them, bouncing against their chests and giggling, unable to get free. Her levity in the face of their inscrutable obliviousness is a winning formula; and when all parties give up on trying to extricate themselves from their seemingly arbitrary connection, their collective shrug of surrender is the show’s most incredibly satisfying relief, an overdue recognition of unavoidable truths. —Jena Cutie