New York | 1h 35m | Already closed

The Lifespan of a Fact (NYC)

From 48 critic and 490 member reviews
Members say: Great acting, Funny, Clever, Absorbing, Thought-provoking

About the show

Based on the true story of the conflict between a famous essayist and his fact checker, this world premiere drama comes to Broadway in a production starring Daniel Radcliffe, Cherry Jones, and Bobby Cannavale. More…

Jim Fingal (Daniel Radcliffe) has a small job: to fact check articles for one of the best magazines in the country. Jim Fingal’s boss (Cherry Jones) has given him a big assignment: apply his skill to a groundbreaking piece by legendary author John D’Agata (Bobby Cannavale). What starts professional quickly becomes profane as one question rises to the surface: Can Jim Fingal ever just shut the fact up?

1h 35m | Already closed | Studio 54 (Midtown W)


“The new play is more of an adrenaline rush than MMA — and far more consequential. At stake is the very notion of the truth as it applies to the news...Not only is this fight worth your attention, it ought to be essential viewing for every citizen in a free society...It's thrilling to watch these two acting titans throw down...Hugely entertaining and insightful...Silverman deftly infuses the inherent drama of this piece with ample comedy...Contains a surprising amount of depth for a 90-minute... Full Review

Tim Teeman

“Zinging, excellent journalism-based play...It is intelligent, thought-provoking, and challenging to the audience...Every contradiction cloaked in the term ‘literary non-fiction’ is thoroughly, beautifully deconstructed by the all-excellent Radcliffe, Jones, and Cannavale...This clever and nuanced play is less in thrall to the romance of long form narrative as it is in the business of getting things right, in telling as close to the truth as one can." Full Review


"Sharp and hilarious social commentary...The trio sizzles with chemistry under director Leigh Silverman, who delivers a tight, tense mounting that nails every funny moment without sacrificing the authenticity of the play's arguments. So canny in its writing and presentation, 'The Lifespan of a Fact' may not only inspire audiences to think more closely about the sources from which they get their news, but maybe even to question the accuracy of the social media memes they've been liking." Full Review


“‘The Lifespan of a Fact’ is funny, fast-paced and provocative. In Donald Trump's America what constitutes a fact has become of paramount importance. The play also has a good deal to tell us about journalistic ethics as opposed to the art of essay writing. Daniel Radcliffe, Cherry Jones and Bobby Cannavale make this a delightful and thought-provoking evening in the theater, and seem to be enjoying themselves enormously.” Full Review

Gotham Playgoer

“The Broadway season just got a lot brighter with the arrival of this star-studded comedy...With three stars — Daniel Radcliffe, Cherry Jones and Bobby Cannavale — any of whom alone would be reason enough to see the play, and a plot that is both funny and intelligent, it is cause for celebration...In addition to the laughs, there is plenty of food for thought...Leigh Silverman’s direction is unfussy. It was a very enjoyable 90 minutes." Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

“Funny, thought-provoking, and exceedingly well performed ‘comedy of conflict’...The interplay among Radcliffe, Jones, and Cannavale is simply a joy to watch. The 90-minute production whizzes by under Leigh Silverman's direction...It's funny, clever, and thought-provoking all at once, a lovely blend of sitcom, farce, and a serious consideration of journalistic integrity that sometimes borders on an epistemological debate over the nature and purpose of storytelling.” Full Review

The Wall Street Journal

“For 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...While you may not buy the surprise’ll like everything else about ‘The Lifespan of a Fact’, including the letter-perfect acting, Silverman’s snappy direction and Mimi Lien’s quick-change set.” Full Review

The Hollywood Reporter

“The exchanges have the vigorous back-and-forth zing of a sweaty squash match, not to mention a stinging relevance to so much of what's been happening for years now in American social, cultural and political discourse. It's hard to imagine this pithy play ever being more timely or more ideally cast, and the dynamic of the three actors is thrilling to watch...As riveting as Jones and Cannavale are, however, the real revelation here is Radcliffe...You can’t take your eyes off him.” Full Review

Stage Left

“A poppy procedural and socially conscious comedy about facts, falsehoods, the nature of non-fiction, the boundaries of creative license, and the ethics of journalism. Canavale, Jones, and Radcliffe are a radiant trio in Leigh Silverman’s swift and entertaining production. This is the Trump-era play we’ve been waiting for: smart and funny, with a serious message about the importance of facts and fact-checking to the trust and integrity of institutions.” Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

“A lively apolitical foray into the world of journalism...All three actors are in sync and they’re all fabulous...The writing is deceptive in a very good way. It often seems like the authors are merely scraping the surface for laughs, when they’re also reinforcing the thematic conflict between overall spirit and individual specifics in reportage...Silverman’s direction is of the highest order. The production is completely organic. One scene flows into the next naturally and logically.” Full Review

Melinda's Malarky

“An absurdist comedy that is alternatively brilliant, prescient and profound...The play contemplates humorously and solemnly what's essential for journalism fact checking...There are multiple sides to truth and varying priorities to storytelling. Farrell's amusing examination of exaggeration or alternative facts makes ‘The Lifespan of a Fact’ an impactful play that resonates long after the curtain falls.” Full Review


“Radcliffe proves to be a master of comedy in ‘The Lifespan of a Fact’... If we were living through a different moment in time, the writer’s fabricated but emotionally wrenching 'truth' would easily outweigh the fact-checker’s chilly reality of events. But with the leader of our nation stomping on truth as we know it, and the very essence of reality imperiled by political fact-stretchers, the debate at the heart of this play transcends comedy and demands serious attention." Full Review

Theatre Reviews Limited

"'The Lifespan of a Fact' raises more enduring questions than it answers – which is expected with three raconteurs vying for dominion...In one corner it is the importance of and necessity for facts: in the other is the importance of and necessity for rich and enduring stories...The playwrights develop their argument carefully and with the requisite logos, ethos, and pathos...Under Leigh Silverman’s exquisite direction, the cast delivers a profoundly moving ensemble performance." Full Review


“This true-life scenario sparked a much-celebrated book ‘The Lifespan of a Fact’ in 2012 by the parties in question - Jim Fingal and John D'Agata - and has now resulted in a marvelously entertaining and thought-provoking play of the same name, one that could have a lifespan of years at Studio 54 if its three marquee-worthy stars, Daniel Radcliffe (as Fingal), Bobby Cannavale (as D'Agata) and Cherry Jones (as editor Emily Penrose), were able to commit to more than a 16-week run.” Full Review

New York Magazine / Vulture

"Directed with a light touch and a sense for gradual crescendo...and constructed with elegance and precision on all fronts...’The Lifespan of a Fact’ gives you the satisfying rush of a good mystery or a crossword puzzle. Your brain gets to go the gym for 90 minutes. But it doesn’t get to go home feeling pumped and complacent. Instead, in a way that’s both invigorating and unsettling, the show leaves you hanging. It suspends you...and challenges you to find your own way out.” Full Review


“A highly provocative play about the not-so-certain nature of truth...A very tight little play — actually more of a dialectic than a drama...A riveting 90 minutes. Silverman directs with a sharp eye, encouraging her excellent actors to flesh out the roles with natural humor and nuance...Radcliffe plays the unrelenting noodge to perfection...I can't exactly say "The Lifespan of a Fact" is a great play, but it is an important one. ” Full Review


“A direct bullseye of a play with a compelling storyline, wonderful acting, razor-sharp direction; one just can’t help but have a hell of a good time...‘The Lifespan of a Fact’ has unexpected twists that you wouldn’t expect, and it ends up being an intelligent, thought-provoking comedy and great entertainment...The cast is impeccable...Silverman has directed her cast with precision and expertise; not a line is thrown away and every gesture speaks volumes.” Full Review

Drama Queen NYC

“One tight little machine of a play...While it is dense and thematically packed, the play simultaneously retains a razor-sharp focus on character. This makes it particularly compelling...Silverman keep the tension, and propulsion, going in every moment. ‘The Lifespan of a Fact’ rigorously explores the nature of accuracy in journalism, and the dangers of taking literary license when writing non-fiction, even if the aim is getting at deep truths. Recommended.” Full Review

Front Mezz Junkies

"Wildly amusing, and as directed meticulously by Silverman...All three actors do the exact same with this simple but fun play, raising a fine and enjoyable story to grander heights...The construct of the story is light and engaging, attempting to be profound but it doesn’t quite burn deep enough. Its sting is more funny than fierce, giving us a joyfully grand night at the theatre.” Full Review

The New York Times

“There used to be a genre of Broadway comedy meant to be topical but not emotional...But ‘The Lifespan of a Fact’ clearly wants to be more than that, even if its raw material isn’t strong enough for drama...'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 would probably nail its laughs even without the dialogue." Full Review

Time Out New York

“A quick and entertaining play that makes a good case for the value of truth...If Fingal gets the upper’s partly thanks to Radcliffe’s appeal as an actor. His Fingal may be a persnickity fussbudget with a dubious sense of which battles to pick, but his bite is the bite of an underdog...Cannavale’s D’Agata, by contrast, is arrogant and dismissive, and his resistance to Fingal’s critiques has an undercurrent of vanity...Like most issue plays, this one ends on a note of ambiguity.” Full Review

Front Row Center

“This is a comedy in so many ways...In addition there are a few intimate scenes that let us in on the closets these characters keep stocked with secrets and intrigue. These could be caricatures, but the authors avoid that trap...While setting out with excellent intention, the play runs off the rails about half way in...There is no crescendo that spikes our interest or the characters’ willingness to go all in. That is unfortunate because these three actors are up to the task.” Full Review

Wolf Entertainment Guide

"A rollicking, fast-talking comedy with contemporary implications delivered entertainingly by a perfect cast...Although the 80-minute, intermission-less romp can grow a bit tedious in spots after a while despite the acting expertise, it basically comes across as a very funny, witty show offering blasts of laughter in line after line. Radcliffe proves himself to be an increasingly fine stage actor, and he deserves an award just for his speed-talking. Jones and Cannavale are also terrific." Full Review

New York Daily News

“A fun debate play and commercial catnip for the brain, the kind of old-school, celebrity-friendly show you can argue about over late-night pasta without anyone's face landing in the sauce. It won't be a Pulitzer contender nor around forever, but it’s smart and very lively...This is a play about an essay in a magazine, but it's also a show about the sorry state of journalism, and maybe of a nation...It's a self-aware comedy." Full Review


“A zippy, literate romp. With their funny, if preposterous, plot and witty dialogue, the playwrights pursue various questions raised by the combative relationship...Moves at a high velocity that obscures what's incredible in the plot and what's deficient in the characters' arguments...Most of all, this is an opportunity to see three of the best actors of our day kicking up their heels in an old fashioned boulevard comedy that's the timeliest, if not the most profound, show in town" Full Review

Must see, Relevant, Thought-provoking, Clever, Absorbing

See it if You want to see a wonderfully developed play. This is the true definition of broadway.

Don't see it if You are easily upset by the idea of suicide. That is a key point in the plot.

Hilarious, Must see, Great staging, Entertaining, Thought-provoking

See it if You love daniel radcliffe and want to see him do more.

Don't see it if You don’t like plays

Absorbing, Funny, Great acting, Great writing, Exquisite

See it if You enjoy intelligent theatre that questions the status quo and highlights the differences between the baby boomer, Gen X and Millennial gen

Don't see it if If you don't like dramas or thought provoking theatre

Clever, Funny, Great acting, Great staging, Intelligent

See it if You think Fact checking is timely and want an amazing cast. Canavale is brilliant and uproariously funny!

Don't see it if You get offended by reporters and artistic license

Absorbing, Funny, Great acting, Great staging, Great writing

See it if You like humor, intelligence, great writing, staging and acting by 3 perfectly cast actors.

Don't see it if You dont like fast paced dialogue or only like musicals.

Great writing, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Intelligent, Hilarious

See it if you enjoy a comedy that makes you think about a serious subject performed by 3 actors who are perfectly cast

Don't see it if you only like musicals or classical drama about honor and revenge

Also A well-written play that is both funny and thought-provoking. What is ... Read more Read less

Clever, Funny, Great acting



Absorbing, Great acting, Delightful, Entertaining, Mesmerizing

See it if You like true, amazing acting! And a thought provoking subject with humor. And Daniel Radcliffe of course!

Don't see it if You don’t like taking lesson home with you after theatre!

Relevant, Thought-provoking, Must see, Intelligent, Funny

See it if like GREAT acting.All 3 actors are at the top of their games.Story is about the value of accuracy in media.Couldn't be more relevant.

Don't see it if you want a musical comedy love story.This is funny, but it's also very important.It's a serious topic that is handled with skill and humor.

Absorbing, Great acting, Funny, Thought-provoking

See it if you're looking for a small, funny, thought-provoking piece presented by 3 truly terrific actors.

Don't see it if you need a play to be more profound than thought-provoking.

Also I definitely have nothing to do with this production. But my 15-year o... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Clever, Delightful, Entertaining, Funny

See it if want to see superb acting, directing, and laugh a lot.

Don't see it if you don't enjoy the work of Cherry Jones and Daniel Ratcliff.

Absorbing, Clever, Entertaining, Funny, Great writing

See it if This is a quick-paced funny play with a fantastic cast that works beautifully as an ensemble.

Don't see it if The characters speak quickly so make sure you can hear and absorb everything well.

Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Intelligent, Relevant

See it if you like a intelligently written, witty, thoughtful and absorbing play with a trio of brilliant actors. A must see this season.

Don't see it if there is no reason not to see this play.

Also The three actors in this thought provoking play had a chemistry on sta... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Thought-provoking, Great staging

See it if you enjoy good acting, you are interested in the relationship between facts and truth.

Don't see it if you prefer simple entertainment without serious topics.

Also While there is quite a bit of comedy in this show, ultimately the view... Read more Read less

Clever, Funny, Great acting

See it if This is a crackling, excellent play, and I am very picky. Terrific acting by each of the three leads, a timely plot and convincing dialogue

Don't see it if You have no interest in current events, hate plays that are not musicals, and you wish to see a splashy Broadway "spectacular."

Great acting, Great staging, Hilarious, Intelligent, Resonant

See it if You are breathing, intelligent and can afford ticket. Fabulous theater, short and super great cast. Incredibly well done.

Don't see it if You don’t like nuance, you don’t read The New Yorker or you want musical theater.

Absorbing, Clever, Profound, Thought-provoking, Intelligent

See it if like absorbing, contemporary stories about what it means to tell the truth in lit journalism, and in the age of Twitter.

Don't see it if hate wordy plays about intellectual topics. This ain't Mamma Mia.

Great acting, Great writing, Relevant, Thought-provoking, Intelligent

See it if you like new plays relevant to today's issues with an outstanding cast and writing, clever, fast-paced dialogue, and that makes you think.

Don't see it if you prefer mindless entertainment to a clever, thought-provoking play about journalism today and the line between fact and fiction.

Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Relevant, Thought-provoking

See it if You want to see a very relevant story brought to life by 3 fantastic actors. Very thought provoking and stays with you afterwards.

Don't see it if You only like musicals or big shows. This is all dialogue but still extremely engaging.

Absorbing, Clever, Great acting, Intelligent, Relevant

See it if The subject matter is fascinating, if you’re interested in journalism, truth and literary license.

Don't see it if You want fluff

Absorbing, Clever, Delightful, Great acting, Funny

See it if you enjoy great witty dialogue, hilarious circumstances and unique and absorbing performances.

Don't see it if you can't see the humor in everyday, workplace scenarios played out to ridiculous lengths.

Funny, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Intelligent, Relevant

See it if You enjoy really smart well written dialogue with a mix of humor and seriousness. It will def make you think.

Don't see it if I’d imagine children would have a hard time following this show as they might not understand the depth.

Great acting, Great writing, Edgy, Intelligent, Relevant

See it if You like witty dialogue and an intriguing story. Good commentary on news vs fake news.

Don't see it if You don't want to listen ... really listen.

Absorbing, Delightful, Funny, Great acting, Relevant

See it if You're interested in publishing and seeing a show about truth vs. good writing. Also seeing these three actors, who are fantastic together.

Don't see it if You find the idea of magazines, deadlines, and reporting a dull topic for a play.

Great writing, Profound, Resonant, Must see, Absorbing

See it if Smartly penned script that is terrically acted but some of the best. Completely absorbed throughout. Intriguing but the funny landed too.

Don't see it if You don’t like plays with deep themes or plots focused on journalism.

Cast & Creatives (14)