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NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

BLACK MAMBA (article first published : 2005-07-9)

If you thought Ben Voss and John van de Ruit had their energies cut out coping with Frank & Stein which is currently running on the National Arts Festival, think again. Following on the heels of their smash-hit success titled Green Mamba they present …? Well, what else but Black Mamba?

Just as in the “Green” version, this new show is flamboyantly un-PC and includes some hilarious and bitingly clever sketches. This stage is set with an elegant chrome-trimmed bar with quilted black-leather sides, which is turned to different angles for optimum use. At its side are two modern chrome bar stools. All very upmarket!

Premiering on the NAF and playing to packed houses, Black Mamba is directed by Murray McGibbon and deals with a variety of subjects.

We start off with the TV show of the erudite culinary duo – Two Many Cooks. Aided by the help of boxed white wine (aka whine, made from sour grapes), they are cooking up a speciality meal. There’s DA Soup, which carries a smattering of black peppercorns “just for decoration” as well as a South Africa Springbok Sporting Sizzler and BEE Chocolate Cake. This sets the tone for this satirical romp down the corridors of all that’s un-politically correct!

As in Green Mamba, the actors take the mickey out of Carte Blanche’s Dereck Watts. This time, he is talking to Richard Rogers of the NOBS organisation and, inevitably, a string of double meanings ensue. The “Minister of Health” also makes her appearance in a very elegant designer outfit complete with feathers and porcupine quills, to forcibly make her point that people aren’t dying of AIDS, they are living with AIDS.

“David Attenborough” makes an appearance to spot the unique activities of a rare species commonly known as a rugby supporter; white-suited television presenters read the News for Whites and two men watching a rugby game tend to be more involved with home care and personal beautification than the actual score.

In The Missing Link, the competitor must answer the question put to him prior to the current one and the matching questions/answers are hilarious. My favourite sketch sees a computer “virgin” being completely befuddled by a smug salesman spouting computer-speak in a store named Incredible Deceptions!

I have no doubt that Black Mamba will be as successful as its predecessor - so watch out for it, if it gleefully slithers your way! – Caroline Smart




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