Isabelle Lane writes …

A return ticket to Paris could set you back over $2000, not to mention the risk of potentially irreversible trauma if you happen to be seated within proximity of a screaming baby for the 24-hour flight. On the other hand, Jacqueline Mifsud’s We’ll Always Have Paris will take you on a journey through the history and landmarks of ‘gay Paree’, in the comfort of your own city, for a modest fee of $20. Bargain.

We’ll Always Have Paris is a tour de force that leads you through the history of the city of light, transposed onto familiar Melbourne landmarks. The show commences in the shadow of the Arts Centre spire, Melbourne’s very own Tour Eiffel. An expectant crowd congregates around Jacqueline, who is conspicuously swaddled in a giant French flag, then embarks upon a 90-minute walking tour. It’s a creative premise for a comedy show, and with a small leap of imagination you’ll find yourself seduced by Parisian magic, ready to bust out the beret and tuck a baguette under your arm.

Mifsud, armed with four years of experience as a tour guide in Paris, is a witty and knowledgeable guide. The show is full of quirky historical facts, personal commentary, puns and pop culture. Her humour, ‘scatterbrain shtick’ as she terms it, is smart and self-deprecating, somewhat in the vein of fellow Francophile Julia Zemiro. Mifsud’s spiels are interjected with amusing off-the-cuff ripostes to the sounds of the street and passers-by. When an impromptu pyrotechnics display threatens to derail proceedings, she carries on and continues to command the audience’s attention like a true pro.

Not to demean our city’s cultural contribution to the world, but Melbourne is probably better known for its rabid obsession with sports than its additions to the annals of history. We’ll Always Have Paris is for all those frustrated Francophiles huddling at home with their shiraz and Sartre, desperately seeking respite from September’s football mania. Mifsud, like the high-school French teacher you wish you’d had, is here to inject a little of that Parisian style and sophistication back into Melbourne.

We’ll Always Have Paris is occasionally crude, but always charming, much like the great city itself. Hats off to Mifsud for this delightful and inspired production, or, as the French would say, ‘Chapeau, mademoiselle, chapeau!’

We’ll Always Have Paris is playing 21 September to 6 October (selected days) at the Melbourne Fringe Festival.

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