"It is an astounding scene" San Francisco Bay Times
Moscow Cats
By Albert Goodwyn
Published: April 12, 2007
Maria Anisimova with a Sphynx cat

Thirty-five housecats, five clowns and one dog keep the show lively in Moscow Cats Theatre. This is an hour-long family show at the Palace of Fine Arts, and it is an astounding scene. How do you train a cat?

Cats open the show to recorded musical accompaniment. A fluffy black-and-white runs across the stage from one wing to the other, then back again and again, with the help of a very astute follow-spot operator, and no doubt with the encouragement of some back stage personnel. A Sphynx cat, a type with an elongated body and head and very short, suede-like fur, comes on from stage left, stops in the spotlight, looks at the audience, then leaves. He repeats this several times, giving the audience a most quizzical look. Both cats performed later in the show. Meanwhile, one gaudy clown perched a grey cat on a pedestal to observe as moderator. Cats entered on skateboards.

The cat action was generally so frenetic that there was no time to look at the humans. When the large brown Pomeranian came on, he exhibited typical fawning dog behavior and ignored the cats. He didn’t do any tricks. One cat entered hitched to a trailer, went right to her marks, then exited. Another few cats walked across a horizontal high bar, then crossed back clinging on upside down. One cat walked a slack wire.

The sparkly Mylar curtain parted to reveal a Paris atelier where a clown sat down to eat, but a cat kept jumping on the table, not an uncommon occurrence. The clown perched another fluffy white cat on a swing suspended from the ceiling. That cat was a little nervous at first, but after observing other acts calmed down. He looked perfectly at ease when the clown unhooked the swing and swung it over his head and around him. The white cat looked like he enjoyed it and had no trouble staying in place.

The clown tried to sleep in his bed, dreaming of a ballerina in a white tutu. Everytime he got to sleep, the Sphynx came in and stood his forepaws on the bedside table, turning on a lamp. Then the cat exited. The frustrated clown kept getting up to turn off the lamp, taking a while to realize the cat was disrupting his sleep. He unscrewed the bulb and laid it on the table. The cat came back, hit the switch and the bulb lit.

Cats got on balls and rolled them across the stage, including one on a disco ball. They lay on their backs and rolled balls or twirled streamered sticks with their feet. At the end of the show, the clowns brought on Fluffy McQueen for his birthday song. He meowed into a microphone.

It’s a fascinating show, and the humans seemed very attentive to the cats. The animals seemed happy enough, being frequently rewarded with treats, but one got stage fright. Cats are very clever. It is not astounding that they should do this so well as it is that they would do it at all.