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New York | 1h 35m | Ends Jan 13

The Lifespan of a Fact (NYC)

From 43 critic and 285 member reviews
Members say: Great acting, Clever, Funny, 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 | Ends Jan 13 | 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

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 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.” 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

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 timing...it 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 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.” 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

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

The Washington Post

“’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.” Full Review


"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." Full Review


“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." Full Review

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

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 acting, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Great writing, 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

Funny, Clever, Great acting



Funny, Absorbing, Great acting, 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

Great acting, Intelligent, Resonant, Hilarious, Great staging

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, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Profound

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, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Great writing

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, Thought-provoking, Relevant

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, Great acting, Relevant

See it if You like a relevant drama and great acting

Don't see it if You'd rather see a musical

Absorbing, Clever, Great acting, Masterful, Refreshing

See it if You want to see a simple concept blown into a hilarious confinement of real world questions - not political!

Don't see it if You have little children - this is not Harry Potter and is very mature

Funny, Clever, Great acting, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if You want an interesting comedy/drama. Need I say more about the cast?

Don't see it if The mention of suicide is triggering.

Funny, Great acting, Relevant, Great writing, 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.

Funny, Quirky, Relevant, Resonant

See it if you are interested in a relevant show about the meaning of truth and the importance of facts. It rings very true in our current climate.

Don't see it if I guess if you are looking for something flashy. This is a small play with lots of dialogue, so it might not be for you.

Also Who knew Daniel Radcliffe was so funny! I was very impressed with him.

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

See it if This balances thought with fun in a unique way. Radcliffe is amazing.

Don't see it if If your looking for light hearted fare or a musical chose this another night. But choose it.

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

See it if intelligent show where facts in an essay about a tragic event are shown to be embellished; dialogue about getting to truth/heart of event

Don't see it if you want action & don't want a lot of dialogue that makes you think

Also Excellent acting (by all), staging and writing.... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Clever, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Quirky

See it if Veracity is the key for three in publishing. At last, a role w/ no tiresome Cannavale swagger. Radcliffe is cast excellently. No politics.

Don't see it if Although there is no political referencing, "truthiness" fatigue unavoidably sets in with the abiding current of ethical disclosure.

Funny, Clever, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Relevant

See it if You’re a fan of plays about big ideas presented in refreshing and novel ways. If you enjoy great stage acting.

Don't see it if You need a lot to “happen” in the plot, or a clear resolution. This is a play about ideas, & gives both arguments equal time.

Funny, Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Relevant

See it if you want new ideas and ways of thinking, intense theater with excellent acting, or relevant topics about truth in media. Masterful piece!

Don't see it if you don't like plays or intense theater that makes you think. This is a very good show with simple staging but excellent acting and story.

Funny, Delightful, Great acting, Relevant, Resonant

See it if you want 2 c 3 great performances. A story that will keep u enthralled by ur attempt 2 figure out "what's true?" (as opposed to 'Fake News.'

Don't see it if u want music. u can't separate the real "celebrity' from the role. u don't like being challenged by the story line as it unfolds.

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

See it if If you want to see some stellar acting, Radcliff is amazing as is the entire cast. Also timely and relevant, not to be missed.

Don't see it if If timely relevant stories portrayed by great actors is fake news to you.

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

See it if you like great acting, great story

Don't see it if you're looking for fluff

Funny, Absorbing, Clever, Great acting, Thought-provoking

See it if Brilliantly acted, perfectly timed, wickedly funny, thought-provoking and timely. Extremely enjoyable 90 mins at theater. You can't go wrong

Don't see it if Honestly can't think of a reason! Unless you really prefer a musical or something long, tragic and deep. See it. You will enjoy it.

Absorbing, Ambitious, Clever, Great acting, Entertaining

See it if Ever so clever and thought provoking especially in these times of idiocy. A terrific trio of actors.

Don't see it if If you want a superficial take on fact based events.

Ambitious, Edgy, Great acting, Relevant, Entertaining

See it if you hate the "fake news" labels going on today and want to see more sides of this difficult issue done in an excellently written and acted p

Don't see it if you believe Trump, are closed minded.

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