By Sonya Acharya
I recently watched Cats (the musical). Luckily, I watched it on YouTube, which allowed
me to take the precautions necessary to consume this horrifying piece of media with minimum personal damage. That meant watching the show (which, remember, is just shy of 2 hours long) in 3 sittings, on 3 separate days. That’s a weird way to watch a thing. But I had to prevent my brain from crumpling in on itself. It could have been worse. I tried watching it months ago, but that recording had twin cats jump out of a sewer pipe and hip-thrust repeatedly, 15 seconds in. I only made it twenty minutes before my brain just shut down. That recording also didn’t have great audio, so I’m actually impressed that I survived 20 entire minutes without knowing what they were doing or why. This time, the functional audio and lack of early hip-thrusts kept my spirit alive (though flickering) for like 40 minutes. After that, I had to scrape the remains of my brain off my skull and regroup. But overnight, I realized that painful as this was, I’m not a quitter, so the next day, I picked up where I’d left off.
To understand my experience, you have to know what I was seeing. Imagine humans.
Wearing skin-tight cat/morph/body suits (why the fuck does it have so many names when it shouldn’t exist at all?) with fur on the arms and legs and face/head. Also their faces are painted like if clowns tried to do cat makeup. And they have tails. It’s super unsettling to watch human-cat-Devil-things strutting around twirling their tails. They stand like fucking giraffes. Stretch your legs way apart. More than that. Are you doing a full split on the ground? Then a little less than that. Are you uncomfortable? No? Then join the cast of Cats, join your people, accept your fate. These creatures all sing and dance. Apparently they were choreographed to mimic real cats, but that’s a fucking lie. They move like snakes or spaghetti or something oozy, like toxic slime.
Why and how did this musical do as well as it did? Who exactly has been signing up to
watch it? Is it like a kinky-thing cult classic or something? Maybe there are only like eight
people, but they really REALLY like it, and they alone are responsible for the rise of
anthropomorphic feline nightmare-fuel. Now that I say it, it’s definitely a kink thing. Remember how the coronavirus has been called “unprecedented”? Well Cats was also called “unprecedented”. An unprecedented success. I haven’t an everlasting fuck of an idea how it was a success, but I can guarantee that no-one, except maybe T.S. Eliot, anticipated Cats.
I don’t feel like reliving the experience to give you all the details. Sitting down to the
third and final session was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do. You haven’t known hell until human-cat-Devil-things are trying to seduce you, when you’re actively not being seduced, when you’re in fact being repulsed as extremely as possible. That’s it, that’s what it’s like, the whole time. I will grant that of the 23 musical numbers, I enjoyed 3 or 4. Unfortunately, by thinking that, I’m now contractually required to watch Cats (2019), the movie. With the musical, I can curl up in the fetal position and tell myself that it’s just fursuits, face paint, and gloves, but CGI is a form of psychological warfare to convince you that things are real. I’ll be watching the movie sometime soon, and if you don’t hear back, I’ve probably died. So this might be goodbye.