From the moment Ben Voss sashays onto the stage in the guise of Beauty Ramapelepele, the audience begins to laugh. We stop laughing more than an hour later after Beauty has regaled us with her experiences as the black nouveau riche maid-turned-madam.
Voss has reworked a script he first presented a few years ago and it’s far, far funnier than before. Beauty has become more outrageous and opinionated, more politically incorrect, and gained a little crudity too. There are moments of absolute glee in this blend of stand-up comedy and political and social satire as Beauty lets rip with some superb one-liners.
The show begins with a hilarious description of Beauty getting lost as all the roads have changed their names. Politicians are ridiculed by subtle and not-so-subtle jibes. Thabo Mbeki road crosses Jacob Zuma road, then comes back around in a neat double cross.
And so it goes on. Beauty weaves mini stories about her life as a successful businesswomen and perplexed mother. She tells us how she’s getting revenge on years of history by employing a white maid. She ventures into the intriguing world of black on white relationships, and presents a fabulous scene of different cultures hitting the dance floor. The audience of every shade was hooting with laughter. For a white man dressed as a black woman, Voss can certainly shake it.
He’s got the perfect mannerisms and intonation too for his wealthy, glamorous older woman.
Voss is pushing the boundaries, seeing what he can get away with as he raises all kinds of topics behind the safety net of commenting through the character of a black woman.
That provokes a few moments where the laughter is more tentative. “Should we really laugh at that?”, we think, “Is that acceptable?”
Voss is clearly enjoying the challenge of breaking new ground, and was almost laughing with the audience as he gauged our reaction to his latest material. The script has now become a seriaaaas satire, if you can have such a thing as a serious satire.
New additions bring in Caster Semenye, Julius Malema and other topical items. In these scenes Voss is literally giving us stand-up comedy in a dress. Then Beauty sits down again to carry on telling us about her life.
It’ s a slick, hugely funny show, with a few moments where the jokes challenge what is acceptable and what is not. Which is how great comedy evolves.
Beauty and the BEE is at Sandton’s Theatre on the Square until Saturday, November 21st. Bookings can be made through Strictlytickets. For further information follow the links alongside.