Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Une Comedia Crude… and lacking order

Although I realize that the Moulin Rouge show Féerie is supposedly an artistic cabaret performance, it was actually one of the funniest comedies I have ever seen. I laughed throughout the entire show because of its ridiculousness. I cannot believe that the show sells out nearly two shows a day to please a total of 1700 viewers. Although there are definitely aspects of the performance to compliment, the dancing and the singing are horrible!

The stage is spectacular. The backdrop and stage itself change often and smoothly. The stage is layered; people fly on invisible strings, descend from the ceilings, and appear from the sides on moving platforms. The backdrops are colorful and extravagant. There is even an aquarium that emerges from the floor.

The costumes and props are equally elaborate and beautiful; for the 100 performers, there are over 1000 costumes. The women are constantly covered in colorful feathers. Many outfits glow in the dark. They sparkle. They are covered in jewels and beads, ruffled undergarments, thongs, and wigs.

The plot, however is not so impressive. According to my online research, the show is split into four acts. However, unless my French comprehension is horrible, I am pretty sure that there is neither a plot nor a clearly defined “act.” At one point there are Siamese twins singing about how they do not ever want to separate, and a minute later there is a couple singing about tainted love. Two scenes later, pirates bombard the stage. Then there are clowns, mini ponies that appear randomly for two minutes on the stage without doing any tricks, an Egyptian-themed dance, a woman swimming with snakes, and a French can-can. Thus, the performances do not relate to each other at all, and I started laughing at the nonsensical acts just after the first song.

The singing and dancing are also poorly executed. I am pretty sure that the performers lip-sync the entire time, as their lips often did not match up with the lyrics. The song choices, like the plot, are bizarre and include American songs such as “I Will Survive” as well as cheesy French love songs. When the dancers perform with the songs, their dance moves do not evoke the feeling of the music. They jump up and down spastically to a smooth-sounding song. They also shake their hips often instead of dancing difficult choreography, and their moves are unsynchronized. They look like amateurs one of the most famous Parisian stages.

However, when the performers are not singing or dancing, a lot more talent shines through. There is a ventriloquist who had me in hysterics as he played with puppets, a real dog, and the audience (though, based on the audience members’ reactions—or lack thereof—, I believe that this part of the act was planned out beforehand). There is a juggler who impressively throws 6 batons at once. There is also a pair of performers who execute INCREDIBLE stunts displaying their flexibility and strength. For example, the man holds his female partner above ground using just his hand. Furthermore, many performers are talented gymnasts, and they impress the audience with smooth triple back-handsprings, 5 aerials in a row, and jump-split landings.

A feminist must not go to the Moulin Rouge show if s/he does not want to be angered. The women are completely objectified and they constantly subject themselves to men. First of all, the female performers are often topless and in a thong, while the male performers never even show bare arms. Secondly, the women always shake their hips and do sexual roll-ups against the men, as if to please the men without concerns about being pleased themselves. Also, the women transform often into nonhumans. They assume the roles of apples, lions, masked figures, and puppets. They wear layers and layers of makeup, and they are all underweight.

The materialism exuded by the costumes, the objects that the women become, and the glamour of the stage really detract from the naturalness and beauty of nudity, and there is nothing sexy about the show. I know that the show is unique and the history of the cabaret itself is appealing, but I have a hard time understanding what attracts so many tourists to the performance. The best part about the show, in my opinion, is the humor in its absurd execution… yet no one but my group of girlfriends was laughing!

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