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Dancing On The Edge Of Satire

Movies & Theatre

No strangers to the theatre scene, Ben Voss and John van de Ruit, will be dancing on the edge of satire in their brand new installment of the Mamba comedy trilogy.

Mamba Republic was two years in the making and comes almost a decade after Black Mamba. It will be staged at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre from May 16 to June 4.

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Ben and John reunite in Mamba Republic, the third installment of the Mamba trilogy.

The pair came together to create the third installment after receiving much success from their respective careers: Voss acted in Game and Beyond the River, which released earlier this month and says his alter ego Beauty Ramapelepele took up much time and van de Ruit has been hard at work on a new novel which will hit bookstores next year.

“A third Mamba was never a certainty but John and I have kept up creative ties and with the country over-ripe for ridicule it would be negligent not to get the Mamba’s fangs back out. We are older and more in tune with the country and our responsibility to unearth the hilarity of the reality around us,” said Voss.

The show is made up of close to 20, three to ten minute sketches satirising our bizarre nation and its place in the rest of the world.

“Expect sketches that deal with the chaos of parliament in the form of a parliamentary orchestra, scandals of the last year through the Mamba Republic Oscars, A football tussle between the ANC and the DA where the ANC score own goals against no opposition and JZ keeps moving his goal-posts. We look at parenting, technology in the form of a Tinder tutorial, drunkenness, corruption, SAA’s appointing car guards as pilots, and race in Racism Idols. In this sketch white participants have to prove to our panel of black judges that they are not racist in order to win free land dispossession insurance. We also have an exploration in drunkenness and a look at bizarre SA cuisine,” Voss said.

Although audiences will be treated to a laugh a minute, there are also moments in the show that hit home hard and fast.

“Good satire should give a punch to the guts when you least expect it: when the comedy sails so close to reality that you are not sure whether to laugh or gasp. Those moments are often the most memorable. Having said that, our job is to show our society in odd and bizarre ways so that laughter is a natural progression for the audience because they recognise themselves in those situations, and then very occasionally touch a serious nerve,” he said.

Van de Ruit said Mamba Republic holds a distorted mirror up to the country and world in which we live.

“From political to social to personal satire, expect Mamba Republic to veer from the sublime to the ridiculous, provoking laughter, thought, and debate. Expect everything from high finance to political low blows. From retail therapy to casual racism idols. Zen and Xenophobia, Tinder advice, child-raising nightmares and an interview with enough finance ministers to fill a cabinet,” said van de Ruit.   

He said he hoped the show will not only make make audiences laugh but also challenge them to take action in their own lives.  

“I think part of the magic of this form of theatre is that you can’t really control what people think, what they may find funny, and what they are offended by. I would hope that audiences will laugh, be challenged and perhaps feel a little more positive about the country and world in which we live,” he said.

Adding to the duo on stage, the behind the scene team is spear-headed by Durban theatre leader and visionary, Mervyn McMurtry as director and designer.

Mamba Republic follows in the footsteps of Green Mamba (2002) and Black Mamba (2005) which together racked up over 800 performances in five years, winning numerous awards and developing a cult following all over Southern Africa.


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