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Thursday, August 1, 2019


(Ben Voss. Pic by Val Adamson)

The show is a crazy mix of verbal and physical comedy as Voss takes us along on a manic laugh-a-minute ride in his valiant quest to conserve nature. (Review by Barry Meehan)

Ben Voss is Benny Bushwhacker, and a host of other characters, in his one-man show currently entertaining theatre-goers at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre.

For those of you out there who might never have seen Ben Voss on stage (more’s the pity!) you can expect an hour-long show of madcap comedy. And for those who have appreciated him before, you can also expect an hour-long show of madcap comedy!

Voss starts the show as Benny, a conservationist who has spent most of his life (from the age of ten) in the bush after dropping out of school in Standard Four. Conventional schooling was certainly not for him, so he moved into the bush to try and find a creative solution to the problem of human nature standing in the way of Mother Nature. When the show opens, we find him lighting a fire in a boma in the Mkhuze Conservancy, educating people to the aims of his conservation initiative, The Paradise Project.

Just some of the other characters who come and go with seamless transitions, include:

-Benny’s gran, who explains his early years
-Skinny, Benny’s sidekick, who had his scrotum bitten off by a vegetarian leopard. “He ate the nuts, but left the meat”!
-The hoity-toity owner of an eco-resort, who gives Benny the task of creating sand dunes in Mpumalanga, so that the resort can be called Sabie Dunes, as all other Sabie-linked names had been taken already
-A somewhat stoned hippy type who has – to him, anyway – a deeply rewarding experience with a black mamba
-Riley, a tech-savvy millennial who is attending – and hating – The Paradise Project, bemoaning the lack of connectivity in the bush. “It’s tough to live the life of Riley”!

Benny is, naturally enough, somewhat at odds with the technical revolution, calling himself a technical t**t and a digital d**s. His only purchase in this sphere has been a watch that does everything by way of GPS, internet etc, but doesn’t tell the time! The watch gets him into trouble with the only creature in the bush that scares him – the dragon-like Brenda, who micro-chipped him when they got engaged.

The show is a crazy mix of verbal and physical comedy as Voss takes us along on a manic laugh-a-minute ride in his valiant quest to conserve nature. There are some remarkably clever moments, coupled with some remarkably corny moments, which are related in such a self-effacing and humorous way that guffaws of laughter emanated from an enthusiastic opening-night audience. Items that stood out for me included his “Nature is freaky” fact sheet (“3% of the Antarctic ice cap is made up of frozen penguin piss”), the Titanic moment, and the eight senses. Yes folks, eight senses – the normal five, coupled with human sense, common sense and nonsense!

Much as this is a comedy show, there is an over-riding conservation message – the union of human nature and Mother Nature, and how we need to do something about the imbalance, and do it now, before it’s too late. The show was well worthy of the standing ovation from last night’s audience, so make sure you don’t miss it!

Benny Bushwhacker runs until August 11, 2019, at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre. Booking is through Computicket. - Barry Meehan

(The Durban season is part of a nation-wide tour during which Benny Bushwhacker is raising awareness and moola for the Lebombo Leopard - Human Conflict Survey. The show will feature at the Hilton Arts Festival in September followed by a season at the Hexagon Theatre, Pietermaritzburg, in November.)