"The Speed of Darkness," the first play produced on Broadway under a unique cost-cutting agreement to slash ticket prices, closed Saturday after a run of just 36 performances.
The five-character drama by Steve Tesich opened Feb. 28 to mixed reviews. Despite a favorable notice in The New York Times, the drama about the reunion of two Vietnam veterans never generated much box office activity. For the week ending March 17, the entertainment trade journal Variety reported that the show played to a little more than 52 percent of capacity at the Belasco Theater."The Speed of Darkness," which stars Len Cariou and Stephen Lang, has a top ticket price of $24 at all performances, with some tickets available for $12. Most Broadway plays have a top ticket of $40 or more. Neil Simon's current hit "Lost in Yonkers" charges $45 for prime seats, and top tickets for last season's Tony-winning "The Grapes of Wrath" had a $50 price tag.
The reduced ticket prices were made possible by the plan formulated last summer by theater owners, producers, craft guilds and stage unions, all of them taking royalty or salary cuts of at least 25 percent. The idea is to boost audience interest in serious new plays.
"The Speed of Darkness" was produced for about $400,000, less than half of the $800,000 to $1 million generally needed to bring a play to Broadway.