Written by Israel Horovitz
The following review is written by Humberto, my play-going companion.
An obese man lies alone on the darkened stage as the play begins. After rousing himself to gorge on potato chips and drink a 40, "Fleming" removes a tattered baseball glove from his bag and begins to sing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game." And thus begins the longest running play in off-off-broadway history, Israel Horovitz's "Line."
"Line" is a play completely centered on dialogue, and aside from the aforementioned items, no scenery or props are present, save the small piece of tape that marks the front of the line. As the play continues, new characters appear, and while none seems to have the same interest as Fleming, each wishes to be first in the Line. Soon it becoems clear that none of the five individuals even knows what the line is for, yet each remains convinced that he must be at the front. The Line becomes a metaphor for life, and the characters symbolize the various ways that people try to advance their station in life. Ultimately they all succeed or they all fail, depending on how one chooses to look at it.
The characters in the play are alternately amoral and morally righteous. Each seeks to benefit himself, and uses and abuses the others as he sees fit. Fleming makes all attempts to play fair, but his stupidity makes him a pawn to most of the others. Steve, the second to arrive, tries to turn the others against each other, and seizes opportunities as they make themselves available. The woman in the group uses sex to manipulate the four men, including her own husband. The fourth to arrive, Dolan, tries to ingratiate himself with others and build their trust, and then jumps ahead when given the chance. The fifth, Arnall (the husband), seems to always defer to someone else, but it is ultimately his attack on Steve that causes the situation to deteriorate completely.
Thus, the viewer is forced to question notions of right and wrong. Is the strongest always right, the smartest, the most dedicated, the nicest? Is justice defined by the majority? One's initial reaction is that Fleming should be first, since he waited all night, but he did step out of line of his own free will, allowing Steve to take over. Furthermore, although he left the line to warn the woman about Steve, she is better off jumping in line behind Steve, and supporting him. This way, she is second, if things were to be judged "fairly," she would be third. Similarly, when the woman seduces her way to the front, is she to be considered wrong? Each individual chooses to leave with her, and the others choose to leave the line to go and watch, calling her a bitch and a slut, but rushing to be at the front of her "line." Ultimately, the scene deteriorates into a shoving match and then a full-fledged fight.
.... and that's al he said .... but stay tuned for more......