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One of Bangkok’s cultural exports annually dazzles crowds at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. ‘The Lady Boys of Bangkok’, in fact, is one of the Festival’s most successful productions.

It doesn’t appear on the bill of Bangkok’s own Fringe Festival, however. I went to find out what did.

Set on five outdoor stages along the riverside, the Bangkok Theatre Festival 2010 showcased everything from classical Thai music to breakdance, with hefty quantities of Poi thrown in to boost the festival frenzy.

Disappointed to discover the stand-up comedy cancelled, I found remedy in an enjoyably amateurish ‘panto’mime. The ‘panto’, I fear, had been misunderstood by these two performers, but their slow burning double act eventually developed into a raucous comic dialogue with successful audience interaction.

Meanwhile on the main stage, young dancers performed an accomplished routine combining ghoulish puppetry and elegant song. Of particular note were three jester/narrator characters, who inspired rapt attention from the swelling crowd, despite being only around 5 or 6 years old.

Fast changeovers between shows meant that crowds invariably lingered, and with zero ticket costs, there was little to dissuade audiences from doing so.

As for appealing to foreign visitors, clearly translated schedules made festival navigation simple, and although dramatic detail will, of course, have been lost in non-translation, performances were nevertheless engaging and entertaining.

Inspiring gleeful applause from the final assembled crowd, the Festival’s closing cermony left a big grin on my face; I couldn’t begin to describe what was going on, but enjoyment of it sure was infectious.

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