Theatre Review / The Lifespan of a Fact 

By Jessica Argyle

Photo by Larry Blackburn.

The Lifespan of a Fact, written by Jeremy Kareken, David Murrell and Gorden Farrell and directed by Joy Hawkins has aged beautifully. In the decade since written, awareness of fake news and dueling narratives has reached our collective unconscious.

Emily (Rita Troxel), the determined editor of an illustrious magazine fallen on hard times, is convinced that the brilliant essay written by John (David Bootle) will restore the magazine to its former glory.

So she hires eager intern Jim (Cody Borah) to check facts for liability.

Emily is the ultimate arbiter of the canon of the essay and must appease the two men under her charge, but she, too, has an agenda; trying to earn a living and keep the magazine alive without getting sued.

This is a tale of battling agendas and compromise where stark reality meets poetic truth. How best to deliver the sad truth of the suicide in John’s essay? How much to contextualize in order to portray the gravitas of the act? Who gets to decide?

Do facts actually impede a greater truth? The answer is yes, if you are John (David Bootle) the gifted essayist, no if you are Jim (Cody Borah), determined fact checker, and a resounding maybe if you are running a business.

The sets are spare, the dialog complex and smart, and could be overwhelming except for the skill of the actors.

Emily leads the cast of three. She is a natural in the role of leader/referee between the egos and no one doubts she will have the final say.

Emily attempts to muscle the two men into submission. She commands respect, fear and love by turns. Her expressions, tone and movements feel authoritative and natural.

John plays the jaded egotistical poet/essayist convincingly, making an impassioned case for great storytellers of the past who held facts loosely. Yet for all his arrogance, he made me chuckle, as if he were aware of the folly of his own self-importance.

The spare impoverished set that depicted his living space was a subtle indicator of the poverty that accompanies most writers who refuse to compromise.

A lessor script would have easily diminished the role of Jim, the eager young pup who believes that facts trump language. The annoying Jim goes on an exhaustive comedic search for even the most obscure and peripheral factoid. But he proves himself equal to John, presenting his case with humor and wit, refusing to be demeaned. His gift for physical comedy is a great foil for the pretentious stance of the writer. And suddenly we are on his side.

The beauty of the piece is that each makes a literate and entertaining case for their own perspective. The Lifespan of a Fact is a wonderful, timely work that teaches, not preaches and, above all, entertains.

Very enjoyable.

WC 461


About Me

Jessica Argyle holds an MA, specialty Creative Writing from Concordia University in Montreal recently won an award for “Sidetrack Key,” the sequel to her first novel, “No Name Key.” Recent publications include poetry on the museum wall, essay and flash fiction for Michael Haykin’s exhibition “Painting A Pandemic”  at the Yellowstone Art Museum (YAM) in Montana. She has three poems in the March 2024 edition of SoFloJo. She loves cats.

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