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Friday, May 19, 2017


(Ben Voss conducting the Parliamental Orchestra)

Fast-paced and highly energised show in which nothing and no-one in the political arena escapes! (Review by Caroline Smart)

Ben Voss and John van de Ruit have notched up a massive following countrywide with their Mamba series and the latest looks set to pull the audiences in.

Mamba Republic is the third show in the Mamba trilogy – the others being Green Mamba (2002) and Black Mamba (2005). In true tradition, this is a fast-paced and highly energised show in which nothing and no-one in the political arena escapes!

The director is Mervyn McMurtry – good to see him making a re-appearance on the theatre scene - who also designed the set and costumes. Lighting is by Michael Broderick.

The set comprises a series of movable back panels. When alongside each other, they feature a massive image of Nelson Mandela against a backdrop of Table Mountain and a string of world landmarks. Soccer City, the Voortrekker Monument, the Vodacom Tower and the Soweto cooling towers stand in line with the Kremlin, the Arc de Triomphe, the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben, the Taj Mahal, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Pyramids and the Statue of Liberty, a reminder that South Africa is an integral part of the world and we should be striving to co-exist as a nation on a world level.

The front of the stage is clear and as the scenes change, tables, chairs, supermarket trolleys, bars and multiple props - including a delightful pink pouffe – are smoothly handled. All credit to stage management for slick set changes.

The play opens with Voss and van de Ruit in Bafana Bafana shirts as commentators for what they describe as the finest day on the soccer calendar, The FU Cup. What follows is hilarious coverage with leading political figures coming under fire. The humour is clever and sharp, taking the mickey out of everyone.

This forms the nature of the rest of the show as leading figures, events and organisations that have made the news over the past few years are torn to shreds with satirical humour.

Voss is the one who has the most changes of characters and accents, playing everything from the oldest woman in the world to play bowls to a baby in a trolley - how he got his long frame into it is beyond me! My favourite was the bored saleswoman in a baby shop casually pulling on her customer’s need to be a proper parent by getting him to buy one item after another. His versatility is used to the full in this production and he showed some pretty hot dance moves.

Van de Ruit is a perfect foil for him, providing a plateau of calm against Voss’s characters’ often wild hysteria. His suave television presenter, Richard Pest from CNN, handles South Africa’s last three Finance Ministers with aplomb and his long-suffering hotel barman was a delight. However, he does get to show his energy mettle in a hilarious scene in the baby shop and he was highly amusing as a newly-separated husband trying to kit out his flat in a Cash Converter shop.

Adding to the amusement are the Caucasian Racism Idols competition, the Mamba Republic Oscar Pistorius Awards, the Rainbow Nation restaurant and a send-up of SAA with a car guard operating as co-pilot. A giggly volunteer (Voss) is invited to show how he can prove his masculinity by dating a mannequin and Voss takes the podium for the Parliamental Orchestra! The finale sees another commentary at lightning speed.

Well done to both for sinking their fangs into issues that need to be pulled to bits. Fans of the “Mamba” series won’t be disappointed!

Mamba Republic runs at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre from until June 4. Tickets R150 booked at Computicket.

There is a GPSA Booking Special: reserve 10 and only pay for 8. Contact Ailsa on 0832502690 or email: or 0315612371 ext 126 (09h00 to 16h00 o/h - closed on Mondays)

The show is due to travel to the National Arts Festival in July (Main Programme), Auto & General Theatre on the Square in August and The Hilton Arts Festival in September. – Caroline Smart