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The Lady Boys of Bangkok
Published on Monday, 19 April 2010

It’s the Lady Boys’ seventh year in Brighton, we’re told… though you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s been a whole lot longer.  A regular fixture on the UK touring circuit, this show’s now so well-known it’s strangely easy to overlook.  But when it comes to these guys, familiarity really shouldn’t breed contempt; their oh-so-befuddling act deserves its fame as one of the truly remarkable experiences of the Fringe.

Lady Boys in costume

In case you’ve been in a cave for the last decade, we’d better explain: the Lady Boys of Bangkok are a troupe of glamorous showgirls, who (as their press release puts it) “just happen to be men”.  They dance, they shimmer, they change their clothes – and occasionally they change their gender at the same time.  The illusion is utterly convincing, and it's genuinely astonishing to watch.  One thing they don’t do, however, is sing; most of the numbers are lip-synched to the original soundtrack, a discovery which at first disappoints but is soon forgotten.

This year, we’re promised “fantasy and feathers” from the sixteen-strong group, with an appearance by Lady Gaga (unlikely to be the real one) and a trip to outer space (ditto).  If it’s anything like previous years, we can expect them to be funny and sexy but to stay the right side of the embarrassment line, and for one or two surprisingly touching slow numbers to take their place in the mix.

It’s not, of course, a place for utter shrinking violets – if you don’t enter into the spirit of the thing, you won’t get a huge amount from this show.  And whatever your gender and orientation, you should prepare to find yourself a little… well, confused.  But that’s all part of the mystery and marvel of this most distinctive of acts.  So, yes, they’re bound to be back next year… but this is high on the list of shows to see before you die, so why not do it now?

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These are archived reviews of shows from Brighton 2010.  We keep our archives online as a courtesy to performers, and for readers who'd like to research previous years' reviews.