Playwright Michael Farkash has died. He was only 53 years old, but he’d
been battling health problems, and his sudden death last month came as shocking
news to his friends in the theater.

He’d been producing Equity Waiver plays in L.A. since the 1980s at LATC, the Burbage,
Wallenboyd, Theatre/Theatre, Cast, Theater of NOTE, as well as the occasional
outdoor venue.

Mike had affiliated himself primarily with the “experimental” wing of local playmakers
— Heliogabalus and Padua Hills, where the fearless exhibition of his own waking
dream state was a natural fit, and where his wry, unaffected nature endeared him
to his colleagues.

His plays were memorably strange. He had a bent for science fiction, and his work
often concerned topics like the cryogenic preservation of heads, alien abduction
or astral projection. Some did not, though, like the play about online pimping.
They bore titles such as Frozen Futures, Gyno Girls, Fontana
and Stolen Time. One play I was in (I forget the title) dared
restore to popular esteem the dishonored practice of mother-son sexual relations.

But he’s probably best remembered for his 1990 cold-cut opus, Meat Dreams,
concerning the journey of a destabilized delicatessen owner. Mike got the best
reviews of his life for that one. Not that it mattered; he certainly didn’t try
to replicate the winning formula. In fact, I never heard him mention the play
again following its highly successful run.

Mike was respected by his peers because he set out to tell stories that were often
just as determined not to be told. I came to regard him for it much the way those
Nazi captors did Steven McQueen’s tireless efforts to flee in The Great Escape.
Mike’s fortitude for tilting at narrative windmills was close to astonishing.
In workshops, group resistance to his ideas perturbed him little, and he’d jot
notes patiently and without judgment, managing to convey at the same time the
impression that he was simply glad for your company. The man was miraculously
un-self-involved for an artist.

Mike cared little for production values. No audience that saw it will forget the
penuriously low-tech sight gag involving a plastic infant lowered from the Glaxa
Studios rafters in Abduction. The doll descended through the lights on
a string, coming to rest on cue within the just-opened palms of the actor. My
mouth fell open. It was not only a feat of insouciant timing but an act of total
disregard for the preservation of the fictional dream. Though I confess to not
remembering what the play was actually about, it contained that towering Farkash

We’ll remember him for his abundances: his wit foremost, his gentle manner and
absence of antagonism. We’ll miss, too, his rich and quietly resonant voice, which
reached your ears as though over thick carpet through a wet basement.

And let’s not forget Mike the sometime actor. He cut a Falstaffian figure that,
because you knew him, you were inclined to view as ironic. But it’d be a mistake
to think he was playing himself. The work for him was no joke; he’d proved many
times that his intentions were true and his heart was sincere.

It’s his heart, we now realize, that he gave, and by which he revealed himself.
And it feels cracked far too soon.

LA Weekly