Perhaps the producer should have made a deal with the devil. A recent production of Mark Ravenhill's dark fantasy, Faust Is Dead, in Los Angeles ran out of cash and expired two weeks into the run, well before its scheduled June 28 close. Tuesday Laboratory's mounting of the play, by the author of Shopping and Fucking, opened May 23 at the Zephyr Theatre.
According to production spokesperson Michael Patrick, the actors voted to close the show (which played under an Actors Equity Association 99-seat contract) when their paychecks bounced. "Checks to the Zephyr Theatre bounced as well," added Patrick, "which means the vote was almost beside the point."
Patrick pointed out that after the show closed, producer Kourosh Gohar eventually made good on his debts. "He's got a big heart," said Patrick, "but not a big enough pocketbook. I mean, the actors were contractually getting $5 a performance, and there still wasn't enough money to pay them."
Part of the problem was that Tuesday Lab, of which Gohar is both producer and artistic director, was simultaneously mounting The Architect, which also closed early due to funding trouble. Spokesperson Patrick noted there were no programs available to audiences or critics on opening nights of both The Architect and Faust Is Dead.
Faust Is Dead focused on a famous philosopher, Alain Pelletier, who embarks on a publicity tour to spread the word that the death of man and the end of history is imminent. "Along the way, he hooks up with Pete, a disillusioned young gay man, who promises the philosopher sexual pleasure in exchange for protection and freedom from his wealthy father back home. Soon, the two expatriates head off on a hedonistic joy ride along a California highway, spending their days getting stoned, having rough, empty sex together, and surfing the sleazier side of the Net, where their bent fascination with perversion takes a bloody turn when they both discover that not all events are virtual." Tuesday Laboratory is a non-profit theatre dedicated to producing American premieres of British plays. Faust is Dead was directed by Allan Hendrick and featured Chastity Dolson, Alex Fox, Allan Kolman, Dolley Levan, Dan McKeever, Brian Newman, Jason Peck and Ronald Robinson.