Cassandra Cat | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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A genuine oddity from 1963 Czechoslovakia, long banned because of its satirical and antiauthoritarian tendencies, this fantasy in 'Scope and color by Vojtech Jasny describes what happens when a magic show featuring a cat with a pair of eyeglasses turns up in a fairy-tale town. When the eyeglasses are removed, people are obliged to show their "true colors"--folks in love turn red, liars purple, thieves gray, betrayers yellow and the local schoolchildren see through the duplicity of the adults for the first time. To complicate matters, the magic show and cat are described in advance by a salty local layabout (Jan Werich) who serves as a sort of narrative equivalent to the stage manager in Our Town and who entertains schoolchildren with his tales while serving as their art-class model; when the magic show and cat arrive in the town, the magician is played by the same actor. Whimsical, likable, and inventive, if never wholly successful, this colorful cross between the Pied Piper and Bye Bye Birdie qualifies as one of the best early examples of the Czech New Wave; significantly, Ivan Passer worked on it as an assistant. Also known as That Cat... and One Day a Cat; with Vlastimil Brodsky and Jirina Bohdalova. (Film Center, Art Institute, Columbus Drive at Jackson, Friday, April 5, 6:00, 443-3737)

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