Reviewer: Daniel Humphreys
The Ladyboys of Bangkok, Forever Yours…xis hard to define. On one hand you have a brilliantly lavish cabaret, full of dirty jokes, pop culture references and a beautiful cast. On the other, you have an uncomfortable evening of fetishisation and awkward lip-syncing.
It’s hard to resist the ‘ladyboys’ (only called so here due to the title of the show, they are all beautiful women regardless of what gender they were assigned at birth) They flirt, tease and tempt the audience in a costume after extravagant costume, while lip syncing to some of pop’s greatest tunes. We get Little Mix, Diana Ross, Tina Turner and Shakira.
The show treads a thin line between comedy and straight up glamour, the cast don’t always move as one, and the lip-sync’s aren’t as tight as you’d expect, but they always look incredibly beautiful while making their mistakes, and there’s enough goodwill (or is it over-priced wine?) in the tent to forgive almost any misstep.
The stand out of the night is an incredibly moving rendition of My Way as one of the few males in the cast slowly takes off his drag, and returns to his male form. The conviction of performance and drastic change of pace makes this moment stand out for all the right reasons. As the vocals he lip-syncs to changes from female to male, the audiences are forced to confront the ‘joke’ that they’ve all been laughing at all night is actually real life, these aren’t ‘ladyboys’ playing at being women for entertainment, these are women giving their all and owning their true selves with confidence and power in front of a much more privileged audience.
But then, we also get dick joke after awful dick joke, reducing these talented women to a joke about what they may or may not have between their legs. Are they in on the joke? I’m not sure…The audience seems to lap this up though, singing along to songs about penises and taking to the stage during the interval to take photos with the cast.
On the whole, the show could use less dick jokes and more personality, none of the cast manage to stand out as they’re all directed to perform in the same robotic manner, yes they flirt and tease the audience – but after an hour and forty minutes you start to wonder if they can smile at all, or if their faces are stuck forever in a seductive pout.
Runs until June 11 2016 then touring