The Last Cyclist | Preston Bradley Center | Theater & Performance | Chicago Reader

The Last Cyclist The Short List (Theater) Closing (Theater and Galleries)

When: Thursdays-Sundays. Continues through Sept. 1 2013

During World War II, the Nazis turned an 18th-century garrison town near Prague into a concentration camp. They didn't equip it with gas chambers, but Theresienstadt (or, in Czech, Terezin) did a pretty good job of exterminating people all the same: it's reported that conditions there killed 33,000. Amazingly, those conditions didn't keep the community of artists interned at Theresienstadt from producing art--and even entertainments, like Karel Svenk's The Last Cyclist, a 1944 satire in which escaped lunatics seize absolute power by demonizing bicyclists as the source of all social evil. Svenk's production was shut down after a dress rehearsal, its equation of Hitler and the lunatics considered too provocative. But the piece was reconstructed from memory 16 years after the war, and Genesis [Theatrical Productions--ed.] is staging Naomi Patz's 2009 "reconstructed and reimagined" version. Trouble is, Patz's changes serve mainly to add a layer of bathos Svenk didn't allow himself, and Elizabeth Margolius's messy staging only magnifies the problem. —Tony Adler

Price: $10-$30

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