The Sabai Pavilion, Cardiff Bay, Thurs 4 June
Since their first appearance at the Edinburgh Fringe back in 1998, The Ladyboys of Bangkok have steadily grown a loyal fan base. This year, they are back with their new cabaret spectacular, Beauty And The Beats, featuring all the glitz and glamour of their previous shows, and then some.
The night kicks off in the Sabai Pavillion, a large circus-esque marquee decked out with fairy lights and filled with the welcoming smells of Thai curries, the steady blaring of timeless 90s pop tunes, and the accommodating, perfectly made-up faces of the bar hostesses.
Once you’re well stocked with chicken curry and wine, you are led to your table, where you can sit and eat whilst you wait for the magic to begin.
On opening night, the atmosphere is electric. Half the people in the audience have been going to see the show for years, and come sporting feather fans and various other accessories from the souvenir shop. As the show is about to begin, we are reminded that this performance features an all male cast. Well, duh, you might think. But as the curtains lift and the stage is filled with a dozen stunning women in sequin bras and lycra hot pants, you WILL find yourself gushing to the person next to you, ‘are they REALLY men?’ They are, quite simply, beautiful – and the show is probably worth seeing just for the aesthetics alone.
But coveted cleavage and enviable thigh gaps aside, this show is more than just a bunch of ladyboys. In the space of two hours, the audience are treated to an eclectic mix of cabaret, fashion shows, dance offs, musical numbers and more. Forget the West End – one ticket to the Ladyboys admits you to the equivalent of at least half a dozen musicals, concerts, and gigs, all under one roof.
Throughout all of this, of course, is some brilliant comedy, with the biggest laughs of the night going to the overly-trussed up dame, who, at various points in the evening, makes her way through the audience on the hunt for men to pull into the act. Which reminds me to make this advisory: if you’re male, and not game for a snog with a ladyboy, don’t go to see this show. If you are brave enough, however, you’ll be sure to receive a gigantic applause for your gallantry.
If there is one thing you can say about the Ladyboys, it’s that they really know how to get everyone up on their feet and joining in. There’s nothing worse than going to see a show with an unimpassioned audience – but that doesn’t seem to be a likelihood for the Ladyboys Of Bangkok, who make you feel simultaneously both energised and at ease from start to finish.
A new experience for someone like myself, and one that I would most definitely want to experience again.
words BETHAN WINNALL
The Lady Boys Of Bangkok, The Sabai Pavilion, Cardiff, Until Sat 13 June. Tickets: £11.75-£34. Info: www.ladyboysofbangkok.co.uk