Thursday

The Ladyboys of Bangkok - Brighton Fringe review 2014 by Rosie Davis


The Ladyboys of Bangkok, Company: Exchange Events Ltd
Venue: Sabai Pavilion, Category: Cabaret
18,25, 15:30 24,31, 16:30 3-12 May, 14–19 May, 21–31 May, 19:00 & 21:45
£34 Platinum Tables, £30 Premium Tables, £24 (£14.50) Standard Tables. 
All tickets 2 for 1 on Mondays [1hr 45]

In the six years that I've had my clothes hanging up and owned keys to three different houses in Brighton, I've not once stepped into the entrance of the tent that annually inhabits Victoria Gardens, staging the glitz and glam of The Ladyboys of Bangkok.

It was my first time and I was deliberating whether my outfit should feature feathers or sequins, but I decided to go for a casual black ensemble as I didn't want to out shine the performers. It also became useful for hiding into the shadows, away from the performers gaze searching for their victims to join them on stage.

The curtains opened for the ladyboys’ brand new show ‘Red Hot Kisses’ and it was as if we were at a Kylie Minogue show (I think it was actually a Kylie song but please forgive me for my lack of Kylie knowledge); the costumes were sparkly, sequinned, there were wings of all shapes and sizes and glitter covering the figure hugging outfits. This was something that would fit well on a Las Vegas stage. As the show went on there were clever and fun comedy skits, including cheeky songs that had the crowd participating, such as ‘My Pussy’, a song about small cats, illustrated with photographs of wet, hot and bald little cats. Sak came on stage and mimed to ‘Saturday Night at the Movies’, he would stop to allow the screen behind him to part and reveal a new scene from films such as Bridget Jones’ Diary and Ghost, the latter definitely causing a wave of laughter in the audience.

There were a couple of performers that may need to practice their miming, but there was one that lived and breathed every move and lip sync, Ole. He appeared on stage as Matron ‘Mama’ Morton from Chicago and Demi Moore in Ghost. His comic timing unbeatable, the facial reactions, the lift of the eyebrow, the pout of the lips, it was the small actions that made this Lady Boy the undeniable queen of the stage. And to top it all off he presented us with the best Tina Turner impression I have ever seen in my life (and as a secret Tina impressionist myself, well after a few G&Ts, I know this)!

In the first half I sat quite rigid, I couldn't relax, one at the knowledge that at any moment I could be up on that stage, and the other that I was a part of a Carry On film. The Benny Hill music, midget being chased and dressed up as a mouse unexpectedly made me question whether this was PC (I surprised myself) for me to be laughing at this. Some of the songs were cringe worthy, but that’s personal taste, occasionally it was as if Radio 1 had been left on by mistake, but then a Dolly Parton tune would take over, and I was the first to join in.

After the interval my shoulders were back, my foot was tapping and I was singing along to the music and admiring their stage presence and timing. I was relaxed and singing along to all of the songs. This show is undeniably entertaining, the costumes are once again spectacular, the scenes are clever and there’s a song for every musical taste, but this will not be everyone’s cup of tea. However much I enjoyed the flamboyant entertainment I also felt ill-equipped to be able to understand the origins of this and felt that I was laughing at a culture I knew nothing about. I wished I had researched the entire history of Thailand and lady boys before I went to the show. But that’s me. I recommend people to go and see this once, sit back, be entertained and make up your own mind about this.

Rosie Davis - follow on Twitter @RosieDavisred
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