As a theater company called Imagination Liberation Front approached L.A., its press releases warned would-be audience members to keep details of its production of "I'm Gonna Kill the President!" hush-hush.
"Do NOT disseminate names, locations, or other information.... MAKE SURE you are not followed to the meeting place. DESTROY this document once you've memorized the information."
Those who call to make a reservation are told where to meet but not where the performance will take place. Presumably the group's leader, who goes by the name Hieronymous Bang, wants the audience to think authorities might bust the show if theatergoers loosen their lips.
Judging from reports of performances in New York, the show's biggest gimmick occurs as an audience volunteer poses as the kidnapped president. A phone call is placed to what is supposedly the White House, and the spectators shout, "I'm gonna kill the president!"
Last week, after the first weekend of performances in downtown L.A., Bang called The Times with an account of how "probably 10 or 12" Los Angeles Police Department officers had shown up on opening night, after the crank call. He claimed they entered the theater and arrested the eight members of the cast and crew for disturbing the peace. The arrested spent the night "handcuffed together" on a bench "in central booking," Bang said. But on Saturday morning, as they appeared in a courtroom, "the D.A. dismissed the case."
If all this had happened, it would have been quite a marketing coup for Bang. But an LAPD spokeswoman said no record of any such bust exists. When another writer who said he attended opening night called her to ask about what had happened, she said, he had the purported officers' names -- but none were real LAPD names. If any charges had been dismissed, that would have to have been Monday, not Saturday, she added.
"This might have been a hoax," understated the spokeswoman. Bang did not respond to a Times call seeking additional information.