WHEN Rebecca Makin-Taylor started doing drama at high school in Kenilworth she knew she had found her calling: “I didn’t even think about it, I knew exactly what I wanted to be, I wanted to be an actress”.
The Capetonian is attracted by how she can use her voice and words to do so much and change her meaning every time simply by changing how she presents herself.
The 26-year-old has worked with writer and director Louis Viljoen before on The Verbalists, straight out of drama school at UCT, as well as with Rust Co-operative’s Penny Youngleson on Expectant and Tara Notcutt on Last Rounds.
While she doesn’t reject the idea of ever getting into writing, right now she is having a blast working on other people’s scripts, relishing particularly the play of sound, language and words. She is particularly attracted to Viljoen’s latest dark comedy, The Kingmakers, which she describes as word heavy but not necessarily filled with realistic dialogue: “This is not the way people speak, but it’s being aware of that and playing with it that is the challenge,” said Makin-Taylor.
In The Kingmakers she plays spin doctor Amy, “working every situation to the advantage of the party, particularly myself”.
The storyline follows three characters who are very ambitious, with 2013 Fleur du Cap theatre Award winner Brendon Daniels (Rooiland) and Pierre Malherbe (Sexual Perversity in Chicago) playing the other two characters.
They are opposition party strategists trying to place a neutral party member in contention for leadership.
The story of hustlers and thieves is set against a backdrop of politics that is not necessarily South African, but is still familiar.
“It’s not recognisably South African because the important story is the games that these people play together, how they use their words, how they use their words to manipulate a situation.
“These are three people who speak very well.”
For her there is a lot of humour to be found in watching how the trio try to spin a situation to their advantage because if you think about it rationally you know they are lying but because of their conviction you fall for it.
She doesn’t have to think too hard about why she falls for it because she learnt the lesson well from her own brother – she laughs as she admits she was a rather gullible little girl who would believe anything he told her because he was just so convincing.
“It’s my brother,” she rolls her eyes. “We fall for our families. Now, I wouldn’t say I’m gullible any more. But, if I think of my first experience of someone who spoke very well, it would definitely be him.”
For a more recent example she only needs to look as far as a politically oriented TV show such as House of Cards or the heightened realism of the western Deadwood.
While The Kingmakers does compare political systems, it is not about politics per se, “but about the show of words. People battling with words.”
Like in House of Cards, “it’s not about the politics, but the relationship between the people and how they get their power. Their relationship as a couple, how they work against the world. That’s exactly what I find exciting about this kind of work, the meaning is not immediately given to you because it’s clever and witty and fast and you need to stay on top of it. You almost can’t sit back and just chill.
“That’s not to say it’s inaccessible. It’s not like you have to sift through a lot of academia.
“These people are clever and you need to up your game to unpick this tangle, this web of lies they’re creating around themselves and around the characters they’re speaking about.”
• The Kingmakers is on upstairs at The Alexander Bar, Strand Street, until September 13. Tickets are R90 online at ww.alexanderbar.co.za or R100 at the door. For more information call 021 300 1088.