WORTH A LOOK?: ****
WHERE? Studio 54 RUN TIME: 85 minutes (no interval)
WHEN?: 4/11, runs to 13/1/19
‘Fake news’ is a term that is rarely out of the headlines and here we have a new American play that investigates a true story about a fact checker who challenges a writer.
- Read on for reasons including how convincing Harry Potter star Radcliffe’s American accent is
The Lifespan Of A Fact is a book published in 2012 which is co-written by John D’Agata and Jim Fingal and is based on a 2003 essay submitted by D’Agata and the years of fact checking by Fingal before its publication.
D’Agata’s essay What Happens There examines suicides in Las Vegas following the 2002 death of a teenager. D’Agata includes his own experience working for the city’s suicide hotline to highlight Vegas’ attitudes towards traditionally high suicide rates.
The play examines the importance of facts versus creative licence to enhance narrative flow. Is Fingal over zealous? Is D’Agata thwarted unfairly? The beauty of the play is that it offers no easy answers. As Oscar Wilde once said: ‘The truth is rarely pure and never simple.’
Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe plays Fingal who may be inexperienced and outwardly scruffy but is inwardly steely in standing up to those who would have him compromise what he believes in.
His American accent convinced us (although there are others in the audience perhaps better qualified to comment) and his straight-man performance reminded us of his last London role.
Bobby Cannavale plays the grumpy author whose back story we get a sense of as the final act moves to D’Agata’s home as the journalistic argument is played out. He’s an actor who so effortlessly fills out this role that we’d love for him to transfer with this to the West End where it would surely be very well received.
The play is a 3-hander and editor Cherry Jones (so good in The Glass Menagerie in the West End) referees and grows increasingly exasperated as neither man refuses to back down.
Leigh Silverman’s direction presents the editor’s office and author’s home and we appreciated the use of screens to illuminate the heavy reliance on email communication.
The acting is sharp and although we were ultimately unsatisfied by the story’s resolution perhaps that was the point?