Shrouded in shadows the curtains rise. At long last, I fulfill my lifelong obsession with the Moulin Rouge. The entire cast appears sequined, feathered, buffed, toned, and breathtaking. White sequined tuxedos are ripped off to reveal jewelled g-strings adorning airbrushed legs. Despite their nudity, they remain elegant and ethereal.
One flamboyant scene after another makes it impossible to take it all in: a pirate show, a circus, the obligatory Can-can and the grand finale, a showcase of the history of the Moulin Rouge through the ages. There are supporting acts of trapeze artists and singers. A ventriloquist has mastered his craft so well it’s difficult to tell whether his canine co-star is real or stuffed. I’m afraid to focus on any one thing, fearing I will miss something. So instead, I regularly scan the stage making myself nauseous. The piece de resistance is a femme fatale balanced upon a swing suspended from the ceiling. She rocks precariously above us, smiling, with the audience at her feet.
The only sound I hear from the spellbound audience, comes from the next table, whose male occupants are clearly impressed with the heavenly beauties before them. Although I don’t understand their German, I get the gist of what they are saying, by their nudges and guttural laughs. It seems the language of love, or in this case lust, is universal.
Quite surprisingly though, the loudest one of the bunch does have love on his mind; or perhaps it’s the champagne on his breath. But suddenly he is on the stage and making a declaration, “Roxanne, will you marry me?” Strangely, his sweetheart isn’t sharing his table. She is up in the wings, and when the spotlight hits her pretty but stunned face, she consults her concerned friend about spending the rest of her life with this clumsy suitor. Nodding her blonde head, the audience and cast cheer enthusiastically at her obvious mistake. Triumphantly, he returns to his friends to celebrate, thus leaving his new-found fiancé to dwell upon her misguided future.
The next day we take a voyage up the Eiffel Tower. Fighting our way to the railing to breathe in the orderly city below, we notice burnt into the grass is the message, “Will you marry me, Roxanne?” We turn to each other in bewilderment. The remainder of our Parisian fling is spent speculating on the sequence of events which led to the immortalisation of Roxanne.