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07 Nov 05

russian cats theatre: needs more mr. mistoffelees

so, anne was faced with a decision: what to do when her parents came to visit for her birthday? her answer was obvious: the moscow cats theatre, of course. that website, incidentally, might benefit from a bit of an interface overhaul. (note this is not to be confused with the christmas present i got for my mom last year: tickets to cats: the musical.)

in truth, we had no idea what to expect. it could have been awesome, and it could’ve been mindblowingly bad. unsurprisingly, it was closer to the latter than the former; however, its sheer awfulness made it hilarious. let’s summarize the event:

  • the main clown, yuri, was on stage for 99% of the time (the only exception was a 5 second costume change). unfortunately, yuri is also the most terrifying and creepy clown i’ve ever seen.
  • yuri spent about 75% of his time on stage inexplicably doing jazz hands, often mixed with hand motions designed to elicit applause from the audience (although, as anne pointed out, this frequently resulted in hesitant rhythmic clapping from the audience for some reason, rather than true applause).
  • cats themselves were technically on stage approximately 75% of the time, but that includes the cats who spent about an hour sleeping on top of the set. in reality, cats doing tricks accounted for probably 20% of the show.
  • the standby trick that the cats (and one dog who was wearing pants) did by default was to have an animal push another animal in a cart of some kind. that got a bit old.
  • some of the cats really did do cool stuff: there were lots of skilled pole climbers, a cat who could stand on its front paws (handstand-esque), a cat who could walk a tightrope-esque prop upsidedown, and a cat who crossed parallel bars like a gymnast, using only its front “arms”. unfortunately, they spread out the really cool tricks and had lots of filler throughout.
  • the other clowns filled a lot of time whenever yuri “brought them to life” with his magic paint pallet. they did such tricks as hula-hooping dozens of hula-hoops at a time, and…um…randomly dancing around.

  • for whatever reason, there were two aliens on stage intermittently whose main function was to pick up props. at one point, they came out on stage wearing enormous hands. no explanation was given.
  • the crowd was worth the price of admission alone. i quite liked the woman wearing cat ears, or her companion who was wearing a collar with a bell. oh, and the little boy with his stuffed cat – a true fan. there were also more binoculars/opera glasses than i was expecting. and the sheer number of eastern europeans in one place was amazing!
  • as we were leaving, they were giving away free books. i thought it was a program or something, but no…they were giving away copies of the “russian master pages”, i.e. the yellowpages in russian. that was a perfect capper to the evening.

in summary: i liked it better than cats: the musical, which isn’t saying much. and i’ve determined that i really don’t understand the russian sense of humour. for another interesting summary of the show, check out this post on stillepost.

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Pronunciation: 'ch&mp
Function: noun
Etymology: perhaps blend of chunk and lump
Date: 1883

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