Last Rounds

Last Rounds

Director: Tara-Louise Nottcutt

Cast: Rebecca Makin-Taylor

Venue: Alexander Upstairs at Alexander Bar and Café

Until: June 19

Rating: ****

Rebecca Makin-Taylor’s (pictured) performance in this engrossing one-hander confirms her talent for holding audience attention throughout a sustained monologue, a talent already apparent last year in Expectant.

Together with Tara-Louise Nottcutt, who directs this show, she has devised a script that resonates with many a dejected lover on discovering the duplicity of the beloved, and the universality of the theme, as well as the force of Makin-Taylor’s stage presence, makes for captivating theatre.

The intimacy of the stage at Alexander Upstairs is the ideal setting for a piece like this, in which the audience becomes the performer’s confidante. Moreover, there is no need to create the ambiance of a bar, since the petite venue forms part of such an establishment, and some members of the audience consume drinks during the show – so there is a natural aura of authenticity.

Looking glamorous if slightly the worse for wear after several whiskies too many, and clad in a bizarre ensemble of feathers, boots and bling in the aftermath of a particularly gruesome bachelorette party aboard a bus, Victoria shares details of her love life with the audience, her tongue and inhibitions loosened by fatigue and alcohol.

In the course of her boss’s prenuptial festivity, which Victoria describes with brutal candour (“I realised that I could only get through this with help from the bar”) a temporary friendship is struck between herself and a neighbour named Minkie – with unforeseen and devastating consequences.

Leading up to the dénouement, Victoria waxes nostalgic about her straitlaced granny and recalls experiences of school, first date, kisses, and unsatisfactory relationships, culminating in a rapturous description of her current beau, summed up as “divine”.

It is he whom she awaits as the clock ticks by towards closing time and “last orders”. The woman’s growing anxiety is palpable as one cigarette after another befogs the stage, and an occasional exhibition of manic dance to the ’80s and ’90s music from the bar’s jukebox helps release some tension...Then she fixes her listeners with a sad-eyed stare before departing with a “Well, it was nice talking to you.”

The succulent script is delivered with a clarity of diction all too rare in contemporary South African theatre, and after a slow start, Makin-Taylor ignites interest with her unwavering eye-contact and expressive face.

By the end of Last Rounds we feel we have made a new friend who may improve on acquaintance. This show is highly recommended for those who enjoy an intelligent blend of satire and sentiment.

• Last Rounds will also travel to Grahamstown for the National Arts Festival, playing at the Princess Alice Hall from July 3 to 12 at 7pm.