Edinburgh Fringe review: Magic of the Lady Boys of Bangkok, it’s like being at the best family wedding reception ever...
The audience sang Shang-a-lang as they danced with the gang on the opening night of Flight of Fantasy, but this gang weren't just clad in the famous tartan trim... they also sported sequins, feathers and more diamante than you'd see sashaying down the red carpet at the Oscars.
The Lady Boys of Bangkok: Flight of Fantasy
The Big Top Theatre, Festival Square
Yes, the Fringe's biggest, boldest and best party has returned home to Edinburgh, where it all began 23 years.
As with past productions, The Lady Boys of Bangkok's latest show is a scintillating mix of camp comedy, eye-catching illusion and outrageous drag routines, at least one of which would even bring a flush to the cheeks of Lily Savage.
From the start of this year's offering it's clear that the traditional art of mime drag is alive and thriving in the care of the 16 strong cast of male dancers who entice you to board their flight of fun as they open with a glittering catwalk display of costumes - just some of the 400 plus in the show - played out to a soundtrack of Alexandra Burke's Hallelujah.
If that's a slightly sedater number than you might have been expecting, then the comedy striptease that follows gives a taste of things to come and quickly has the capacity audience whistling and cheering.
Next comes a pastiche of the Eurovision Song Contest. Brexit-Vision, a medley of hits from the long-running competition, pays a nod to everyone from Bucks Fizz to Jedward while boasting a subtly satirical take on Cliff Richard's Congratulations.
A diamond medley, well they are a girl’s best friend, heralds more glitz and spectacle as the first act of the show comes to a suitably spectacular end.
When the curtain raises on act two, it's party central all the way as each number takes the outrage, the laughs and the 'audience participation' up a notch; hits by Bonnie Tyler, Lady Gaga, Village People, Tina Turner and Shania Twain are just some of those that ensure it’s soon a full-blown singalong.
And just when you think things can't get any more bonkers, there's the show’s now iconic Scottish finale; Shang-a-lang has the crowd on their feet, Sailing sees phone waved aloft, and 500 Miles raises the roof, but it's Loch Lomond that provides a fitting climax to the most joyous 90 minutes on the Fringe.
The genius of any Lady Boys show is its playlist of hit numbers, all chosen by creator and artistic director Phillip Gandey. It's like being at the best family wedding reception ever, one where the DJ knows exactly what fills the floor and how to ramp up the fun, and that's exactly what Flight of Fantasy does, ramps up the fun until even the most reluctant curmudgeon, dragged along by their wife, suddenly finds themselves on their feet doing YMCA and singing along.
As for the illusion, by three numbers in you'll forget that you’re watching an all male company or at least start questioning whether or not you are… and that is all part of the magic of the Lady Boys of Bangkok.
Run ends August 29