“The Lifespan of a Fact”
Up Next for Hampton Theatre Company
“The Lifespan of a Fact,” a riveting three-character play that combines biting humor with timely arguments about the collision of print journalism with poetic license, continues the Hampton Theatre Company’s 2022-2023 season this spring, with performances running from March 16 through April 2 at the Quogue Community Hall.
Based on a nonfiction 2012 book of the same name by John D’Agata and Jim Fingal – which in turn was inspired by an essay written by D’Agata about a teenager’s 2002 suicide in Las Vegas – “The Lifespan of a Fact” was adapted for the stage in 2018 by Jeremy Kareken & David Murrell and Gordon Ferrell. The play tells the story of how Fingal, an idealistic, fresh-out-of-Harvard intern, was tasked by the editor of a prestigious yet troubled New York magazine to fact-check a groundbreaking piece written by celebrated author D’Agata – with a strict deadline only a weekend away.
Excited by the opportunity to prove himself on such a prestigious piece, Jim’s mood quickly changes to alarm when he discovers a disturbing pattern of unsubstantiated claims and creative liberties taken by D’Agata throughout the otherwise brilliant 15-page essay. The play climaxes with an 11th-hour faceoff between author, editor and fact-checker – with none willing to give ground as the hours grind by and a deadline decision looms.
“The Lifespan of a Fact” premiered at New York’s Studio 54 in October 2018, with Daniel Radcliffe as Jim and Bobby Cannavale as John; Cherry Jones rounded out the cast as Emily Penrose, the editor who sees in D’Agata’s essay the kind of buzzworthy piece that could save the magazine from irrelevancy and possible ruin.
A New York Times “Critics’ Pick,” the play was lauded as “buoyantly literate” by The Washington Post, with Variety praising its “terrifically funny dialogue … the debate at the heart of this play transcends comedy and demands serious attention.” The Hollywood Reporter called it an “ingenious adaptation of the sui generis book of the same name … moves with the ticking-clock urgency the situation demands, yet finds appropriate moments to breathe and let us ruminate on the personal, professional and moral issues at stake.”
The HTC production of “The Lifespan of a Fact” features a trio of accomplished actors, each of whom has performed on the HTC stage before: Laurie Atlas (“Ripcord”) as Emily, Jamie Baio (“Lost in Yonkers”) as Jim, and Matt Conlon (“Ken Ludwig’s Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery,” “Man of La Mancha”) as John.
George Loizides (“Over the River and Through the Woods,” “A Doll’s House, Part 2”) directs; HTC veteran Andrew Botsford is the producer. Set design is by Mr. Loizides; lighting design by Sebastian Paczynski; sound by Seamus Naughton; and costumes by Teresa Lebrun.
Performances of “The Lifespan of a Fact” will run from March 16 through April 2 on Thursdays and Fridays at 7, Saturdays at 8, and Sundays at 2:30. An additional matinee performance will be offered during the final weekend of the production, on Saturday, April 1, prior to the regular 8 p.m. performance that evening.
A talkback with the cast will be offered to ticketholders immediately following the Friday, March 24, evening performance.
Tickets are $36, $31 for seniors, and $20 for students 25 and under, and are available at the Hampton Theatre Company website at hamptontheatre.org or by calling 631-653-8955. Patrons can also purchase tickets now for the final play in the theatre’s 2022-2023 season: “The Portuguese Kid” by John Patrick Shanley, which will run from May 25 through June 11.