The Lifespan of a Fact BROADWAY REVIEWS

Photo: Peter Cunningham


  • NY 1


  • EW

  • WSJ

Opening Night:
October 18, 2018
January 13, 2019

Theater: Studio 54 / 254 West 54th Street, New York, NY, 10019


The determined young fact-checker (DANIEL RADCLIFFE) is about to stir up trouble.

The demanding editor (CHERRY JONES) has given him a big assignment: apply his skill to a groundbreaking piece by the unorthodox author (BOBBY CANNAVALE).

Together, they take on the high-stakes world of publishing in this new comedy of conflict. The ultimate showdown between truth and fiction is about to begin - with undeniably delicious consequences.

  • NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW OF The Lifespan of a Fact

    A Three-Way Smackdown Over ‘The Lifespan of a Fact’

    Jesse Green

    October 18, 2018: So was I mistaken — or just selectively truthful — in calling “The Lifespan of a Fact” “terrifically engaging” just 20 paragraphs ago? It might have been more accurate, if less marquee-ready, to have written “terrifically engaging but not as smart as it thinks.” That this doesn’t much matter as the play pingpongs along is the result of a terrific comic staging by Leigh Silverman. With its cast, its dead-on timing, its perfect set by Mimi Lien and sound design by Palmer Hefferan, it would probably nail its laughs even without the dialogue. It’s what you call a good time. Of course, I can’t prove that.

  • DEADLINE REVIEW OF The Lifespan of a Fact

    Lies, Damned Lies & ‘Lifespan Of A Fact’: Daniel Radcliffe, Cherry Jones & Bobby Cannavale Seek Truth

    Greg Evans

    October 18, 2018: Is there such a thing as just a little fake news? Or is that like being just a little comatose? Broadway’s The Lifespan of a Fact, a new based-on-reality play starring a totally-committed triumvirate of Daniel Radcliffe, Cherry Jones and Bobby Cannavale, poses some big questions about small truths. Certainly the top-grade quality of the cast (and the fascinating real-life story behind the play) has us hoping for answers, or at least a rousing good yarn. There’s a little disappointed on both fronts.

  • NY1 REVIEW OF The Lifespan of a Fact

    Theater Review: 'The Lifespan of a Fact'

    Roma Torre

    October 18, 2018: Written by Jeremy Kareken, David Murrell, and Gordon Farrell, "The Lifespan of a Fact" is a riveting 90 minutes. Leigh Silverman directs with a sharp eye, encouraging her excellent actors to flesh out the roles with natural humor and nuance. And while the work strives to be even-handed, it's clear the playwrights are more sympathetic to Jim's side of the debate. Daniel Radcliffe plays the unrelenting noodge to perfection. And when the two go at it, Bobby Cannavale's arch sense of entitlement as John makes for a most compelling dynamic. In the middle is Cherry Jones as the exasperated Emily, and she too is terrific. I can't exactly say "The Lifespan of a Fact" is a great play, but it is an important one. And as the assault on objectivity escalates throughout the world, I wish it a long and healthy lifespan of its own.

  • VARIETY REVIEW OF The Lifespan of a Fact

    Broadway Review: ‘The Lifespan of a Fact’

    Marilyn Stasio

    October 18, 2018: Harry Potter had no sense of humor whatsoever, but Daniel Radcliffe proves to be a master of comedy in “The Lifespan of a Fact,” the brainy Broadway play that Jeremy Kareken, David Murrell and Gordon Farrell adapted from a magazine article — better described, perhaps, as that classier literary form, the Essay — and a subsequent book by John D’Agata and Jim Fingal. Radcliffe plays Jim Fingal (yes, the very one), a nerdy fact-checker for a struggling literary magazine run by Emily Penrose, played by Cherry Jones in tower-of-strength style. Like literary magazines everywhere, this one is reeling from tanking ad sales, shrinking circulation and a geriatric readership. But salvation beckons in the form of a potentially sensational article — make that an Essay — by John D’Agata, a ferociously talented writer played to the hilt by the ferociously talented Bobby Cannavale.


    The Lifespan of a Fact tackles truth and consequences with an all-star cast

    Leah Greenblatt

    October 18, 2018: The idea of subjective truth in journalism — or anywhere, really — has an obvious timeliness in our era of alternative facts, and Lifespan does offer an intriguing story, and three fine, famous actors to play it. But the outcome never feels quite as consequential as it should, possibly because it isn’t actually that ambiguous; John tells unnecessary lies under the guise of artistic license, and Jim is left to be the didactic classroom-pet nag, asking why the article can’t just go with the actual 31 strip clubs licensed in the city, instead of 34. (Is John a secret numerologist or something? It’s hard to know otherwise why it matters so much to tell that particular lie.)

  • WALL STREET JOURNAL REVIEW OF The Lifespan of a Fact

    ‘The Lifespan of a Fact’ Review: True, False and Everything in Between

    Terry Teachout

    October 18, 2018: Whatever happened to the smart, well-wrought stage comedies of yesteryear? They’re not dead yet—in fact, a new one just opened on Broadway. “The Lifespan of a Fact,” written by Jeremy Kareken, David Murrell and Gordon Farrell, is the sort-of-trueish story of Jim Fingal (Daniel Radcliffe), a mild-mannered obsessive-compulsive intern-turned-fact-checker for a New Yorker-type magazine. Jim’s hard-nosed editor (Cherry Jones) assigns him to disentangle truth from untruth in an essay by John D’Agata (Bobby Cannavale), a writer whose self-acknowledged practice is to “take liberties with things that deepen the central truth of the piece.” In other words, John makes stuff up—lots and lots and lots of stuff, as the hapless Jim discovers to his horror and our delight. or most of its length, this admirably compact play is a rib-bustingly funny farce in which things go from very bad to far worse in nothing flat. Toward the end, though, Messrs. Kareken, Murrell and Farrell skillfully modulate into a darker key as Jim and his colleagues grapple with what it means for journalists to make stuff up in a fact-challenged world: “When the blogs and the fan sites and Twitter and 4chan and Reddit and whatever in the whole, insane internet—when they start tearing you down brick by red brick, they’re not going to say ‘Wow, John D’Agata altered certain details in the service of poetic truth.’ They’re going to say, ‘Wow, John D’Agata lied.’” While you may not buy the surprise ending—about which I can say nothing here for fear of giving away the game—you’ll like everything else about “The Lifespan of a Fact,” including the letter-perfect acting, Leigh Silverman’s snappy direction and Mimi Lien’s quick-change set.



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