This extraordinary theater, founded and run by clown Yuri Kuklachev, has become enormously popular in Moscow and abroad in the fifteen years of its existence. A family-run operation, the Cat Theatre has a company of over 120 cats (and four canines) who perform alongside human mimes in a variety of shows including The Nutcracker and Cats From Outer Space. Kuklachev says that cats cannot be trained - they will only do what they want to - and the performances have a pleasantly ramshackle feel, with the cats occasionally refusing to do what's expected of them, or deciding to do something completely different instead. That said, with no more than soft words and gentle hands, Kuklachev can coax his feline performers into doing some amazing tricks, including handstands and aerial acrobatics.
The performers are often rescued from the streets by Kuklachev, and he employs techniques similar to those used at the Durov Animal Theatre, spending long hours examining each cat's natural behaviour before developing tricks to incorporate this into a performance. Alongside the cat acts, there's a great deal of traditional clowning by Kuklachev and his cohorts, and a lot of audience participation.
There is, of course, a limit to the tricks even Kuklachev can make cats do, and the shows are occasionally a little repetitive. That said, these good-natured performances are guaranteed to delight young children, and have enough inventiveness and humour in them to keep adults entertained as well.
Address: 25, Kutuzovsky Prospekt, Moscow, 121151, Russia
Transport: Kievskaya Metro Station
Internet: www.kuklachev.ru is a site devoted to the theatre's US tour in 2005, but has plenty of information about the theatre and some excellent clips.