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Brighton Fringe 2009

The Ladyboys of Bangkok

The Ladyboys of Bangkok

Venue: Sabai Pavilion, Victoria Gardens, Grand Parade


Low Down

 Back for the zillionth time, The Ladyboys of Bankok present their "Mile High" show, promising an unforgettable experience. The ladyboys are stunning as ever in a variety show that mixes mimed music, dancing, glitzy costumes, acrobatics and comedy.


 According to the publicity, the "2009 production is even glitzier and more glamorous than ever – if that’s possible." well, apparently it is, as I heard several people coming out of the show afterwards saying that it was "better than last year.". It seems the Ladyboys have upped their game.

Certainly this production had all the glitz and glamour that was promised with dazzling costumes, well choreographed (if someone simplistic) dance routines, and a lot of enjoyable comedy and well chosen music. There was a particularly touching short musical theatre piece based around the song "I am what I am", in which one of the "ladyboys" returns in full costume to his/her dressing room and transforms (back?) into a man in shirt and trousers, leading us into a genuine melancholy, before bursting forth proudly to sing the song’s finale verse as a man (silk shirted of course), a transformation of self to a self equally real. The ritual removal of make-up is well staged and touching. 

At other times the show has a karaoke feel (All of the songs are mimed to original soundtracks mostly) and at its best, the dance routines and comedy are full-on, spectacular and the added element of "these are really men" clearly drawns the curiousity of many audience members. It is an element of theatre in itself that isn’t self-parody but more a kind of self-celebration that clearly the audience want to engage in. And that’s the secret of this show; you are invited to fall into its spirit. If you aren’t prepared to do that, you’ll be a detached onlooker, wondering what it is all about. The majority of our audience were on their feet clapping and dancing well before the final curtain. There’s a lot of inventive comedy, the dancing is mostly tightly put together and executied, the "spectacle" holds the attention and is ultimately a heart-delivered piece of musical theatre/cabaret that is proud to be what it is. It’s a very good "show".
The premise of a "mile high" show, with the curtain opening on a large, white airplane is a very minimal hook that the show hangs its parade of dance, song, comedy, audience participation, and some impressive Caesar-twin-like acrobatics on. But that doesn’t really matter. It’s all presented as genuine enjoyment, the energy is full-on (how do they do two shows in an evening), and I didn’t see anyone looking disappointed (though one or two looked a bit weirded out).
"Direct from the heart of Bangkok’s exotic nightlife, you will be entertained – like no one has entertained you before!" This is their promise and, in my case, its true. I haven’t seen anything quite like it. What I would really liked to have seen are at least a few of the songs sung live. This would make the difference between a very good show and an outstanding one.