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'The Last Cyclist,' Satire by Holocaust Victim, to Play in Uptown

 The logo for "The Last Cyclist," which opens in Uptown in August.
The logo for "The Last Cyclist," which opens in Uptown in August.
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Genesis Productions

UPTOWN — The National Pastime Theater will host the Chicago premier of "The Last Cyclist," a nearly 70-year-old satire set in a world where madmen wage a campaign of mass murder against bicycle riders.

The play was born in 1944 in Terezin, a concentration camp and Jewish ghetto in the former Czechoslovakia, where writer and composer Karel Svenk wrote it in captivity. The cabaret-style satire was rehearsed among captives but never performed publicly at the compound for fear of angering the Nazis.

Jewish author and educator Naomi Patz put together the 2013 adaption of the play, which opened in New York in May and will be shown at the National Pastime Theater, 941 W. Lawrence Ave., from Aug. 17 to Sep. 1 as a partnership between the theater and Genesis Theatrical Productions.

"The play told of a world where the lunatics were literally running the asylum as a mad dictator (read: Hitler) and his lunatic supporters (read the SS) escape from an asylum and take over the world," Genesis said in a release. "They declare that the evils in the world have been caused by bicycle riders (read: Jews) and they proceed to harass, hound, capture, exile and eventually kill all bicycle riders as well as anyone who ever owned a bike or whose grandparents owned a bike."

The play's creator, Svenk, died in 1945 after the Nazis sent him to work in a factory where he suffered undernourishment and was forced to work long, hard hours.

Genesis Productions said that the play, which will be directed by Elizabeth Margolius, was "a form of resistance to the Nazis" that is "unlike any other Holocaust play you may have ever seen."

The cast for the play includes actors Andrea DeCamp, Amy Gray, Steve Greist, Michael Hall, Stefanie Johnsen, Daria Harper, Charlie Rasmann, J. Keegan Siebken and Adrienne Smith, according to Genesis.

To order tickets, click here. Previews start Aug. 15.