Sept. 17 through Oct. 10, 2021
8:00 pm on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays,
and 2:00 pm on Sundays.
Theatre NOVA's current COVID-19 policy requires guests to be vaccinated and masked while in the building. All attendees should bring their vaccination cards (or digital or paper copy) and photo IDs.
All remaining performances are SOLD OUT.
THEATRE NOVA PRESENTS THE MICHIGAN PREMIERE OF
THE LIFESPAN OF A FACT
Jeremy Kareken & David Murrell
Jim Fingal had one job: to fact-check renowned essayist John D’Agata’s piece for the high-profile magazine where he interns. But the more Jim digs, the more “alternative facts” he discovers in the article. Soon he finds himself in an all-out battle of truth versus fiction with the famous author. Based on the true story of D’Agata’s essay “What Happens There,” The Lifespan of a Fact is a hilarious examination of how sometimes cold hard facts do not necessarily lead to the truth.
Directed by Carla Milarch, The Lifespan of a Fact Features Andrew Huff, Justin Montgomery, and Diane Hill. The production and design team includes Monica Spencer (scenic design), Xavier Williamson (lighting design), Vince Kelley (costume design), Sophie Little (sound design), and Briana O’Neal (stage manager/props).
“…terrifically funny dialogue…once the writer and the fact-checker get into a lively debate on the ethics of factual truth vs. the beauty of literary dishonesty, it’s time to really sit up and listen…Their deadly serious but oh-so-funny ethical dispute is brilliantly argued…the debate at the heart of this play transcends comedy and demands serious attention.” - Variety.
“…buoyantly literate…wholly resonant questions [are] wrestled with in this briskly entertaining play…you’ll find yourself happy to have your preconceptions disturbed and assumptions unsettled.” —Washington Post
“[THE LIFESPAN OF A FACT] moves with the ticking-clock urgency the situation demands, yet finds appropriate moments to breathe and let us ruminate on the personal, professional and moral issues at stake…[an] ingenious adaptation of the sui generis book of the same name…” —Hollywood Reporter
Review: 'The Lifespan of a Fact' at Theatre Nova
“Director Carla Milarch keeps the stage pictures tight while frequently finding reasons to move the actors and keep the energy high. There is no intermission ...and Milarch avoids audience fatigue with her orchestration of tension and energy.
[Justin] Montgomery takes the audience on a journey in which they immediately identify with him only to eventually question whether he is taking things too far. He imbues Jim with an earnestness and ambition while also slowly revealing how his approach might be overly pedantic or maybe obsessive-compulsive.
[Diane] Hill wears the weariness and stress of a major magazine executive on her face. Hill gives her hard edges, but still portrays the sheen of idealism over all the decisions she makes.
John’s story arc is one that [Andrew] Huff handles with aplomb. He balances the bully with the artist, the arrogance with the earnestness. He makes sure that while John isn’t always likeable, he can’t be written off as wrong or unnecessary.
Lighting and Projections Designer Xavier Williamson contributes to the show’s tone and pacing, helping to both identify the passage of time and the intensity of emotions while moving the audience focus from center stage to the aisles for phone conversations.
Set Designer Monica Spencer actually won applause and murmurs of approval during a scene change where the flats rotate and the desk turns into a couch. She makes the most of the small stage and everything gets used to the best effect.
Theatre Nova has re-opened its doors with a thoughtful show that entertains while presenting challenging questions."
Pulp: Arts Around Ann Arbor
“During a set change in Theatre NOVA’s first live, in-person production in front of an audience since March 2020, a stage crew duo flipped and turned an office desk to reveal a fluffy couch. As this metamorphosis played out on the stage Saturday night, the audience - masked and seated in spread-out chairs - ooooh-ed and gasped in delighted surprise.
I’m clearly not the only one who’s been pining for little hits of theater magic during this pandemic.
Plus, weirdly, this desk/couch duality embodies an all-too-timely theme at the heart of The Lifespan of a Fact wherein an essayist pushes against the notion (and value) of objective truth.
Director Carla Milarch helms Lifespan with a confident hand, finding workable solutions to challenges posed by Theatre NOVA’s tight physical space, while set designer Monica Spencer does the same in order to place us inside the play’s two locales: Penrose’s office and D’Agata’s home. Meanwhile, costume designer Vince Kelley visually underlines the fact that these two men exist in a comfort-first world - Fingal due to youth, and D’Agata due to avocation - while Penrose must necessarily armor herself in more polished, black business attire.
If you go to see Lifespan, which has a run time of 85 minutes, know that Theatre NOVA is taking its safety measures seriously. I was asked for proof of vaccination at the door, had to wear a mask inside the theater, and I sat a space apart from the half-capacity crowd.
As intended, these precautions allowed me to focus completely on the story at hand, which, after this brutally long theatrical dry spell, was precisely what I wanted."
“In almost every walk of life, and dominated by today’s political discourse, the truth is under severe attack. In The Lifespan of a Fact, now playing at Theatre NOVA, the truth is at the center of a bitter dispute among an essayist, a magazine editor, and a young fact-checker.
Huff is very compelling as a Boomer generation essayist D’Agata clinging to what he believes is the license granted to writers like him to massage the small facts of a story to convey a larger truth he is driving at. He frequently gets fed up with Fingal’s super earnest, sticklerish embrace of the job he has been given. Montgomery, meanwhile, thoroughly understands his character’s embrace of the truth being the truth with no gray areas when it comes to journalism, and facts being facts. His contrast to D’Agata’s casual dismissals of details is at the center of the story. In the end, this conflict is about opposing standards and each character’s definition of mankind’s most profound question: what is truth, and what is the right path to arriving at a shared truth.
Diane Hill keeps faith with the character of Penrose painted by the playwrights. While Hill plays the tough, high-strung, editor of the magazine who hopes this essay will be a “legacy piece” for her magazine, the character as written can come off as a bit of a caricature – of the coffee-swilling, “you’ll never eat lunch in this town again” type. Hill does extremely well at being the bridge between the two male characters, and struggling between the virtues of both of their points of view about the importance of verified facts.
What is important here, though, for what is ultimately a very fast-paced, taut, 90-minute treatment of a major issue confronting society, is that it works. The story works beautifully to turn the lights on for audience members about the importance of facts. Not your facts, and my facts. Just the facts."