Closed 1h 35m
The Lifespan of a Fact (NYC)
Midtown W
84

The Lifespan of a Fact (NYC) NYC Reviews and Tickets

84%
(514 Reviews)
Positive
94%
Mixed
5%
Negative
1%
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.

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Member Reviews (514)

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75
Based on a true story, Well acted, Intelligent, Plotless, Talky

See it if you want a straightforward, amusing play re:standards of nonfiction. All 3 actors are adept. Some laughs; some insights. Needs smaller venue

Don't see it if you want an impt discussion (nonfiction SHOULD be factual) or a satisfying ending. Why all-white cast? Drags occasionally.Mostly enjoyable

94
Great acting, Great writing, Relevant, Funny, Entertaining

See it if You want to see 3 top notch actors give great performances in a funny entertaining show that is also timely and topical and super relevant.

Don't see it if You’re not a fan of topical plays that make you work a little for your satisfaction. Like most things in life, there’s no clear cut ending.

Critic Reviews (48)

October 18th, 2018

“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 timing...it would probably nail its laughs even without the dialogue."
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October 18th, 2018

“A quick and entertaining play that makes a good case for the value of truth...If Fingal gets the upper hand...it’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.”
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October 18th, 2018

"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.”
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October 22nd, 2018

"Thus are the battle lines drawn: soulful artist vs. nitpicking pedant, in John’s view; amoral fabricator vs. ethical realist, in Jim’s...For such a conceit to work, we have to believe in the merit of the thing that is in dispute. Is one essay really worth all this fuss?...As the play goes on, and its initially sharp comedy dulls into a repetitive deadlock, it becomes clear that John is a martyr not to his notion of poetic truth but to the demands of his paper-thin writerly pride."
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October 18th, 2018

“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.”
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October 18th, 2018

“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...The ending comes on with surprising emotional resonance, though the impact of its final moments mostly serves to remind theatergoers that the rest of ‘Lifespan’ could have used another, altruistic kind of fiction: more plot — and true emotional detail — than its bare facts can provide. "
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October 18th, 2018

“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."
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October 18th, 2018

“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 ending...you’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.”
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October 19th, 2018

“The finesse of Silverman’s direction and the polished comic timing of the three glorious stars onstage...guarantee a helluva good time...Pedantic, irritating, and a royal Pain...Radcliffe is very funny...Cannavale is laugh-out-loud funny...And Jones is delightful...The exaggerated fact checking in this saga took seven years...The result is both valid and tiresome. You are left with the uneasy impression that the three playwrights are still fact-checking each other.”
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October 18th, 2018

“A new based-on-reality play starring a totally-committed triumvirate...poses some big questions about small truths. Certainly the top-grade quality of the cast has us hoping for answers, or at least a rousing good yarn. There’s a little disappointed on both fronts...How to transfigure this years-long intellectual adventure into a 90-minute stage drama?...That’s a puzzle that playwrights Jeremy Kareken, David Murrell and Gordon Farrell haven’t solved. "
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October 18th, 2018

“’Lifespan of a Fact’s’ confrontation boils down in...Silverman’s lucidly handled, 90-minute production to a test of wills and three distinct perspectives articulated by a trio of hardheaded characters...The play would well have been a yawner had not these characters all been generously and sympathetically inhabited. Jones couldn’t be better...And Radcliffe provides the canny pivotal performance that demonstrates why the world needs sticklers.”
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October 18th, 2018

“They’re Broadway’s new odd couple: an eager-beaver fact-checker and an arrogant author...That’s the setup for ‘The Lifespan of a Fact’, the so-so sitcom...The verbal volleys can be fun, but some of the action seems silly and contrived...Director Leigh Silverman’s production zips along as it moves from glossy office to humble home. Better still are the actors, all of whom shine."
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October 18th, 2018

“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."
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October 18th, 2018

“A feisty but undercooked new play...While the production is lively and centered on three great actors fighting it out, the play itself is rather thin and the characters are all one-dimensional...The 90-minute play does not so much fizzle out in the end, rather it concludes without a resolution. But for a good deal of time before that, the audience’s attention is maintained by the trio’s high energy and the significant issues that they confront.”
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October 18th, 2018

“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. ”
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October 18th, 2018

“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 play.”
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October 19th, 2018

"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."
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October 29th, 2018

"Daniel Radcliffe, Cherry Jones, and Bobby Cannavale make such a delightfully oddball trio that for the longest time you might not notice that 'The Lifespan of a Fact' could benefit from a dramaturg armed with a blue pencil...That it took three playwrights to cobble together this thin, if usually amusing and sometimes stimulating, effort is something of a surprise, especially since its portrayal of the magazine-publishing industry could use a fact-checker."
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October 18th, 2018

“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.”
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October 18th, 2018

“As a play, ‘Lifespan’ isn’t much more substantial than the paper your Playbill is printed on. It’s really just a fact-checker and a writer arguing, tennis match–style, about the semantics of a magazine story...How it took three playwrights...is anyone’s guess. But it makes for a weirdly compelling 95 minutes...Cannavale turns in another spectacular portrait of a tortured underdog—all bluster and brawn, and brilliant. And Jones is, of course, flawless in a thankless role.”
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October 18th, 2018

‘’The Lifespan of a Fact’ is presented as an urgent and timely examination of facts and accuracy...But it knows its answers before it begins...The play can’t help feeling a bit ersatz...This is not to say that the play is unenjoyable, especially as stylishly directed by Silverman...The book...is a charming and engaging meditation on the craft of writing and the ultimate inscrutability of knowledge...The play is an amusing evening at the theater.”
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October 18th, 2018

“A literate but stubbornly drama-deficient new play...The authors, the director and the actors valiantly try to energize the proceedings, with some success, by fleshing out the contours of the characters, and bringing them together for a three-way intellectual brawl. Play and performers are thoroughly watchable. Still, at times you feel that the actors are engaging in something analogous to phone-book-reading...The dialogue has plenty of patches of smart, crackling comedy.”
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November 30th, 2018

“‘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.”
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October 21st, 2018

“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.”
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October 24th, 2018

“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"
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October 28th, 2018

“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.”
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December 12th, 2018

"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.”
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T
October 22nd, 2018

"'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."
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C
October 18th, 2018

“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.”
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December 12th, 2018

"The play starts off as often being very funny, sometimes even verging on farce. The laughs gradually diminish,…creating an uneasy balance between comedy and drama. And much as it's interesting to hear the arguments play out, there's little one can approve in John's colorful rhetoric…For all the play's basis in real life, it often seems more fake than real, suggesting that its own authenticity needs fact-checking…Radcliffe provides the most honest performance."
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October 24th, 2018

“In a couple of different ways, I take ‘The Lifespan of a Fact’ personally. On the one hand, Cherry Jones, Bobby Cannavale and Daniel Radcliffe, are three of my favorite actors in the universe, performing in a comedy directed with a light, fast touch by Leigh Silverman...On the other hand...I know something about journalism...I find ‘The Lifespan of a Fact’ a slight play that simply doesn’t do full justice to the issues underneath the comedy.”
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October 18th, 2018

“An intriguing premise and a confident assemblage of ideas fall apart onstage despite a trio of strong performances...It plays very fast and very loose with the actual circumstances...The tension feels fake. So does the play’s vision of journalism...It’s terrific that a play wants to attack such intricate, thorny issues of art and authenticity, but less terrific that it wants to confront them in such phony ways.”
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October 18th, 2018

“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."
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October 18th, 2018

“Beyond the nonsense that ‘The Lifespan of a Fact’ makes of journalism, there is the little dramatic problem that none of the three characters grows or develops in the course of 90 minutes. Some character frisson might have been created if director Leigh Silverman had switched the roles...Instead, the two actors are typecast. Jones’ portrayal makes a very good case for why her character’s magazine is losing its readership and deserves to.”
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November 19th, 2018

"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."
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October 18th, 2018

“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.”
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T
October 18th, 2018

“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."
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November 7th, 2018

"'Lifespan'... packag[es] its epistemological ruminations in a brisk and entertaining show that plays to its actors' strengths without straining too much intellectually."
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October 22nd, 2018

"A comedy about fact checking? Sounds hilarious, right? Well, it is! And it also happens to be extremely topical...The play has the stellar actors sparring in surprisingly funny ways...To spin comic gold out of this topic provides a refreshing night of theater, and though the play is not as successful when it aims for more profundity, this is a worthy look into the art of double-checking—and that’s a fact."
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October 18th, 2018

“It's hard to imagine this kind of literary contretemps as engaging drama, but in the hands of director Leigh Silverman and her impeccable cast, it becomes a timely and entertaining...discourse on the nature of what is correct and what is ‘truth’...Radcliffe returns to the NY stage as the determined but out of his league Fingal, locking horns with D'Agata, playing the pompous author to the hilt from the start. The always pitch-perfect Jones is Emily."
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October 18th, 2018

“What's most impressive about this stage version is that it transforms something potentially insider-ish and wonky into a surprisingly funny and urgent drama. Radcliffe and Cannavale are perfectly cast..If the mostly entertaining ‘The Lifespan of a Fact’ eventually runs out of steam, it has less to do with the cast or...direction than one's sinking feeling that the stakes here aren't very high...This is a modest show that finally feels more suited to an intimate off-Broadway space."
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October 18th, 2018

“This new play about a fact-checking dispute at a magazine feels incredibly timely...While slender in concept, the resulting production is frequently funny and benefits from rich performances from its cast...The performances of all three are punchy and assured. They make us feel the dramatic stakes...Silverman’s production initially feels somewhat laborious and antiseptic...But...the humanity at the heart of this intellectual battle shines through.”
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W
October 20th, 2018

"’The Lifespan of a Fact’ pretends to be about something really important...but when you look closely, you realize that it's a well-polished argument about nothing much...This major dramatic flaw is impossible to overlook, which is too bad because the cast is simply wonderful...But even a fictional drama like this one needs some basis in reality...An audience can't trust a play that's ostensibly about debating the truth of facts if it gets all its facts wrong.”
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October 23rd, 2018

“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.”
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October 29th, 2018

“For anyone who cares the least bit about journalism and standards, the very existence of this play will bring about a rage that’s as intense as a forest fire...For those who believe the media is ‘the enemy of the people’, this play will convince them that once again, they are never wrong...Silverman gives the play an efficient staging...Cannavale does well in conveying D’Agata’s laissez-faire attitude...Jones is perfect for the hard-bitten editor who bites hard, too.”
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October 25th, 2018

“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.”
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M
October 18th, 2018

“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.”
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November 11th, 2018

"Daniel Radcliffe...His energetic and humorous performance makes a fairly standard show come alive with excitement. The play has a compelling theme for these troubled and truth-challenged times...Unfortunately, you get the full story in the first few minutes and the playwrights didn’t add enough nuance or twists to keep it going. But they somehow had the good luck to get their simplistic story into the hands of three fabulous actors."
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