SA’s young theatre voices mesmerise

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EXPECTANT
DIRECTOR/WRITER/DESIGNER: Penelope Youngleson
PERFORMER: Rebecca Makin-Taylor
VENUE: Barney Simon at The Market
UNTIL: February 2
RATING: ****

 

Hold thumbs that this is the start of the invasion from the Cape. And cross fingers that the plays move around, up and down and sideways, all across the country. Our art community is too small not to risk and benefit from travel.

We’ve been lucky enough to catch some of the south’s young Afrikaans voices at Potchefstroom’s Aardklop. With many drama schools down south, there’s a burgeoning theatre community we should be experiencing – both Gauteng audiences and artists.

This collective is one of those and Youngleson (and her partner) both write and direct, which means she can really shape her story – which she does. With our country’s past as the backdrop, she explores in particular the young white English-speaking woman and her search for identity.

It’s about the words as much as the way it is told. Youngleson describes her text as “verbose” and is blessed to have found the extraordinary Makin-Taylor (pictured) who connects with her stream-of-consciousness in a way that makes the playwright’s vision come alive in extraordinary fashion.

From the guttural moaning or expunging of excess baggage, to the way she carries her different characters and switches from one emotional plane to another as she soars and dives into the psyche of something she’s hoping to clarify or coalesce, it’s exquisite to witness.

Reminiscent of a porcelain Victorian doll or perhaps a Marie Antoinette on the loose, she’s definitely European in a foreign space made even more alien by what has gone before. There’s no coming home or planting her feet until she can scrape through the past without so much pain.

It’s almost like tuning in and out with glimpses and snatches of someone’s life as they try to make sense of their own discussions. Something might grab you and hold on and others might not hit the mark, depending on who and at what stage of life you are.

Yet Makin-Taylor won’t let you go as she commands the room to the manner born.

These are young voices, but they approach their work with a confident stridency that’s hard to turn away from. Its the country we live in with different people trying to find their way. It’s about identity and how you integrate your own.

Expectant’s voice might not speak to you directly, but there’s no ignoring theatre made and per- formed with such passion while telling stories that dare to seep through your system like a piercing scream or sometimes whisper.

If anyone wants to know about the future of live theatre, this is it. It’s about telling strong stories that make people stop and listen. In a country with our diversity, its appealing that individual voices come through and resonate. This is the young talking and we should all be part of that conversation.

It should be there in the stories and in the performance and that’s what Expectant marries so well.

It’s about listening to what others have to say and hearing your own stories told. It will touch and affect you in different ways. And for me it was all about the magnificent staging and the performance.

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