Producer: Carol Gandey
Director: Phillip Gandey
Reviewer: Johnny Fox
The Public Reviews Rating:
The noble tradition of the transsexual ‘katoey’ features in Thai culture, art and literature and stretches back centuries.
The parading of transexuals in a circus tent is an exploitative Western phenomenon in the ‘freak show’ tradition and stretches credulity that it persists in the 21st century.
It seems almost inappropriate to include Lady Boys of Bangkok among in the Edinburgh Festival reviews because its audience seemed so different from other EdFest and Fringe: party tables of women on an office outing, a kind of sub-hen night midweek jolly fuelled by blush Zinfandel and a chance to sing along to familiar chav anthems like Shania Twain’s “Feel Like A Woman” or “Y.M.C.A.” here bizarrely mimed by a four-man tribute to the six-man Village People.
The costumes are colourful although not very revealing, and with the help of hormones the dancers have hairless bodies and convincing breasts but the music’s all cover versions of pop hits and the lip-synching is downright appalling. The performers look glazed and mechanical as you might expect on a 72 gig tour which drags them from Dundee to Truro between August and November and their choreography is as basic and dated as a BBC Seaside Special from 1985.
There is comedy but reduced to the crudest level of mime that could be perceived by partially sighted non-English-speaking customers a hundred feet back in the audience. And featuring a dwarf as a butt of the jokes.
It’s also Edinburgh’s most aggressively security-screened venue, with all bags searched for contraband including soft drinks. This seems less for safety than to ensure you purchase only their own high-priced offerings within the tent.
Commercial. Tacky. Trite. Not very Edinburgh at all.
written for www.thepublicreviews.com and published 19 August 2011