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Tuesday, November 24, 2015


(Ben Voss/Beauty Ramapelepele offers witty explanations of the journey)

Playful and mischievous night-time entertainment experience. (Review by Keith Millar)

Move Madame Zingara out of doors, add a distinctly South African flavour, present it at night in a world class botanical gardens, and you may come close to the playful and mischievous entertainment experience that is Wickedly Odd: The Night Garden.

This unique and innovative event, which could be described as a gourmet dinner, a fantasy show, a festive party and a nature experience all rolled into one, will take place at Durban’s iconic Botanic Gardens until December 6.

The whole package is a glorious sensory overload with new wonders and surprises happening at every turn.

On arrival at the gardens, guests were treated to a welcoming glass of champagne. We were then directed up the garden path by a group of prancing wood nymphs past a magical Frangipani forest with multiple lights dancing to the music of The Sorcerer's Apprentice. Then on to the Sunken Gardens for snacks and drinks at a 1930’s garden party with music provided from old 78 records played on an authentic wind-up gramophone.

Guests were then given the opportunity to wander about and enjoy the gardens at night. There were 24 creatively-lit pockets of botanical curiosity, such as for example Cannon Ball Trees, a Chinese Soap Tree, Banyan Fig Trees and an extensive Bromeliad garden indigenous forest. Each area was especially chosen by the Curator of the gardens, Martin Clement.

At each pocket, along with a written explanation, there was a QR code which one could scan with a smartphone and listen to a witty, tongue in cheek explanation given by actor Ben Voss, in the voice of his character, Beauty Ramapelepele.

Along the way we met giant quirky puppet characters such as Praying Mantises, a Hadeda Ibis, Crows, Flamingos and a Vulture.There were also musicians, acrobats, dancers to discover as we moved about the gardens. There were also hidden bars and secluded resting points.

Performing in the amphitheatre, accompanied by a piano, was an impressive jazz singer, Amanda Kunene. This made for an enjoyable stop-off to enjoy a drink and some good music.

After an hour and a half of enjoying the gardens we were led to a huge Bedouin tent for diner. The food was beautifully presented and would not have been out of place in a fancy hotel. The Tuna fish starter and Fillet Steak main course chosen by my wife and I were excellently prepared and very palatable.They went very well with a bottle of Protea Merlot.

Music during dinner, and for the dancing and partying which followed, was provided by a group called Kickstand. They are a very good, inventive guitar duo. It never ceases to amaze how many styles of guitar playing there are, and Kickstand has certainly created its own unique sound.

Wickedly Odd: The Night Garden is an enthralling, exciting and very entertaining event. It is also a unique opportunity to get a new and different perspective on Durban’s wonderful Botanic Gardens.

To enjoy the experience to the full, bring a QR reader downloaded on your smart phone as well as a powerful torch. Dress elegantly, but wear sensible shoes and bring umbrellas for rainy days. Dancing is encouraged but the Gardens are near a residential area so from 22h00 onwards, volume will be kept to acceptable levels.

Recommended parking in Botanic Gardens alongside Visitors Centre.

Public bookings are available on November 20 and 28 and December 5 at 17h30 for 18h00. Tables seat ten people - either book ten pax / one table or individual seats at a table. Tickets R695 pp includes unique venue experience; extraordinary entertainment; a five course menu and champagne on arrival. Booking through Computicket outlets, telephonically at 0861 915 8000, or online at – Keith Millar

This event has a strong corporate focus and offers a perfect year-end function. There are different options available. Contact 031 313 3330 / / Facebook: Wickedly Odd – The Night Garden