Saturday 8 May 2010

Bangkok -- A Spectacular Siamese Show (no, not upstairs in Patpong)


Ok, you might not think that a three-letter word can quite capture and do justice to a USD$40 million production, featuring 500 costumes and 150 actors (plus not a few pachyderms, goats and chickens) ... and you would be absolutely correct!

I am really struggling to describe this spectacular show -- listed in the Guinness Books of Records -- to you. The official slogan is 'A Journey to the Enchanted Kingdom of Siam'. But that could equally describe a midnight stroll down Patpong Road.

And to say It's a Journey Back into History as they do on their website is way too bland, and conjures up images too generic and old and dusty. It doesn't compel you with the dramatic dioaramas of Khmer civilisation, the colour of the Lanna culture, and the clangour of the Chinese traders seeking their fortune. It says nothing of the Ramayana-like depictions of heaven and hell and the mystical Himpaan Forest, nor the joyous depictions of Thailand's many festivals such as Songkhran (think water) or Loy Krathong (think candles).

Instead, there are boats being paddled across the 65 metre stage, bands of sylph-like figures floating gracefully through the sky, and trumpeting elephants plodding across bucolic mountainscapes. Oh, and levity in the form of some audience participation at half time. (Tip: don't sit in the seat I was sitting in -- you'll soon find yourself up on stage making an arse of yourself with some kind of rigged bamboo rattle!)

As words fail me -- Yay! I hear you cheer -- I shall leave it to a couple of others to sum it up for you instead:

"Think Cirque de Soleil plus Italian grand opera and classical Thai dance dressed by Las Vegas costumers and staged by Hollywood," gushes Susan McKee of Jax Fax Travel Marketing magazine. Ok, Susan I'm trying to think of that. "World-class staging, heart-stopping colors and pulsating performances all to the beat of hummable music and energetic dancing. Siam Niramit is a must see!" raves Francine LeFrak, a Tony Award-Winning Broadway producer. Yes, I can see where she's coming from.

But I think H.E. Mr. Rodolphe Imhoof, Ambassador for Switzerland, says it best: "Une superbe soiree d'introduction a'la art et la civilisation Thaie. Merci de tout couer."

That's French for, um, "wow!"

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