05 June 2008

Feerie - Moulin Rouge, Paris - Wednesday 28th May 2008

Lovers of camp the world over - hie yourself along to one of the most famous nightclubs in the world and overdose on feathers, beads, G-strings and sweat!
A visit to the famous “Red Windmill” was our “last night of the holiday” treat – the 9pm show was sold out completely at least a month beforehand, and there were only a few tickets left for the 11pm show, so we decided to become Gentlemen of the Night for the evening. Unfortunately, CBB failed to realise that the MR is in the middle of one of the most famous red light districts in Europe and had somewhat of a prissy hissy fit when it transpired that being a boulevardier for half an hour or so might mean “being importuned by prossies”. Some people, eh? So, while he scuttled along in the shadows (surely the worst place to scuttle?), I managed to beat him by three “Looking for a good time, Mister?”s to nil – one of whom was from a particularly aesthetic looking chappie – if I’d had the time and a couple of euros spare, this review might never have been written… Anyway, all attempts at getting CBB to sit down at a pavement café, chill out and watch the world and his pickup go by having failed, we headed for the MR – and it was probably a good job that we did, as the queue was already stretching well along the street, to the consternation of several café owners (if we’d been there any longer, we could have probably had moules frites and a coffee while remaining stationary in the queue) and the managers of the review La Grand Prix de Monte Carla, the posters for which showed that it was really “Oooh la la, there go my pantalons” by any other name - none of the audience, when they came out, getting mixed up with our queue in the process, looked as if they had laughed any great deal. Really, tout le monde were in the queue – Americans (you mean we’ve really got to join this queue? We’re from Bedillybong, Idaho!), Russians, Chinese, Germans, Brits; in fact, everyone except the French who stared as everyone in the line with that “looking down the nose in a superior fashion at the tourists” kind of way they have. By 10.50pm, the queue was down the road and then some, and people were getting distinctly edgy. At 11pm exactly, the doors swung open and an excited buzz went up. The curtains opened at 11.30pm, to a chorus of popping champagne corks and muttering from people who thought they’d been put at bad tables.

And what a show it was. An acquaintance of ours had reported that, having seen the show earlier that year, he “hadn’t noticed” that the girls (collectively known as “The Dorris Girls”) were bare-chested until about half way through “because it was done so tastefully”. I’d made loud scornful noises, but I have to say that I could see what he meant. There was absolutely nothing sleazy or seedy about any of the show – yes, there were many perky boobs on show, but it was about as raunchy as a vicarage garden party. In a fab way, though.

The show started with a bizarre act in which all the girls were decked out in tomato red feathers – in fact, some of them did look just like tomatoes for a while as the feathers were curled round their upper bodies, although they “dropped” later to become long feathery skirts. The boys were in silver lame toppers and tails, but ripped their trousers off a la The Full Monty very quickly! The next routine was a slightly bizarre number that started off with the entire cast camping it around as sparkly pirates – then the backdrop changed to The King and I on LSD and costumes went brief, camp and glittery – sort of Scherezade and Indiana Jones meet Chu Chin Chow and Carry On up the Khyber. There were some amazingly OTT deep blue Conquistadors (both male and female) prancing about the stage briefly, and then we seemed to be in the Temple of Medusa – at which point a see through water tank filled with pythons actually rose from the stage! A scantily clad young lady then jumped in and proceeded to do underwater acrobatics – I noted that the snakes didn’t really seem particularly bothered! On a 1 – 10 scale of camp, this number went completely off the scale!

In order to cool everyone in the audience down (by now we were all at least halfway through the champagne and getting into the swing of things), we then got a solo act involving ping pong balls. No, its not what you think – the chap actually juggled them with his throat! He swallowed one, shot it about four feet in the air and then caught it back in his throat – and then proceeded to do the same thing with three balls at once. I tell you what – it was filthy!

Then on to the big Act 1 Finale – Au Cirque Dorris! Firstly there were some distinctly creepy clowns, managed by a distinctly horny Ringmaster. Then “Olga and her lions” – human lions with big, bronze feathered headdresses all covered in spangles, then a rather bizarre and somewhat distasteful “Siamese Twins” act – two girls in one big dress between them (which I don’t think most of the audience knew quite how to react to. It certainly wasn’t funny and, I think, fell rather on its face. Then six girls in very skimpy “Jockey” costumes each led a miniature horse (each with full complement of feathered headdresses!) across the stage – and of course the audience went completely wild. I’ve said it before in reviews – you can put on the most spectacular production and blast people from their seats, but bring on some kind of cute animal and the rest of the production will go unnoticed as the audience go totally beserk! Bring on SIX cute animals and you might just as well give up competing with them because, cherie, the punters just ain’t looking at you no more!

After a short interval, during which the audience had to collectively take aspirin in order to calm themselves down, Act II started with the classic Moulin Rouge “Can Can” – and theres absolutely no need whatever to describe this because it was everything (and more) that you would expect, culminating in absolutely everyone on stage (I think there were 70, but they wouldn’t stay still long enough for me to count them accurately!) doing the splits and “whoop”ing and “Oh la la”ing their heads off. Fantabulous! There was a rather strange “Homage to Women” number which started with the girls in rather revealing versions of turn of the century costumes, moving through the 20s, 40s and 50s and which ended up, bizarrely, with all the men in leather trousers, body harnesses and black leather caps. Finally there was another “big feathers and spangly G-strings” number – this time in shocking pink – and just when you thought it couldn’t possibly get ANY camper, all the women’s headdresses actually lit up! Superlatives failed me at this point and the audience went completely AWOL, as you might expect. We staggered out into the night squiffy and elated – but not squiffy enough for me to disregard an unopened bottle of Moulin Rouge Champagne on a nearby table - it left under my jacket. C’est manifique!


pinkcoconut said...

Thank you for this hilarious review. I love the way you write. I'm designing a concept for the Paris Plaza (www.parisplaza.in) in India, and your article has really helped me visualise the show. So glad you didn't go off with the aesthetic prossie...

rtb said...


I bought a brochure for the show which I would be more than happy to copy for you if it would help?

Shoe said...

What unbelievable fun! Am off to Paris in October and had dabbled with the thought of going to the famed M.R. Your review has cemented the matter for me. As for my man's man stoic boyfriend... I'll just promise him lots of naked titties. That should do the trick.

Cheers from Canada!

rtb said...

Please please PLEASE drop me a line after your trip and let me know if you enjoyed!