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BWW Review: THE LIFESPAN OF A FACT Brilliantly Poses Complex Questions at 4th Wall Theatre Company

BWW Review: THE LIFESPAN OF A FACT Brilliantly Poses Complex Questions at 4th Wall Theatre Company

BWW Review: THE LIFESPAN OF A FACT Brilliantly Poses Complex Questions at 4th Wall Theatre Company

Emily: Have you ever stared at the....

John: ... into the abyss?

Emily: The barrel of a gun.


Within the realm of fantasy role-playing games such as Dungeons and Dragons, players have the ability to choose between moral alignments, one of these being the notion of "chaotic good". This phrase is the perfect summation of 4th Wall Theatre Co.'s production of THE LIFESPAN OF A FACT, which not only asks important questions about the validity of facts but does so in a brilliant way.


The play is written by a trio of authors, Jeremy Kareken, David Murrell & Gordon Farrell, and is based on a true story of John D'Agata's essay WHAT HAPPENS THERE. His story is centered around the suicide of a teenager, Levi Presley. While the short story is the catalyst for the drama surrounding the play, the real tension of is centered around the characters of writer, John D'Agata, a fact checker, Jim Fingel, and his editor, Emily Penrose. The story focuses on the assignment that magazine editor, Emily, assigns her intern, Jim, to review. Emily's anxiety about the deadline for his review causes Jim to overly check the facts of John's essay. His ambitious and zealous nature causes conflict as John eventually has to defend against the intern's eager questions. No spoilers-but what results is an evening of miscommunication and questions as to what determines fact or literary fiction.

BWW Review: THE LIFESPAN OF A FACT Brilliantly Poses Complex Questions at 4th Wall Theatre Company
Pamela Vogel and Nick Farco in 4th Wall Theatre's
THE LIFESPAN OF A FACT.
Photography by Gabriella Nissen.

This piece, directed by Kim Tobin-Lehl, is excellent. She allows her actors to exude play freely on the stage and leads a production that will touch the heart of all audience members. The role of Jim Fingel is played expertly by recent UH MFA Acting Graduate, Jack Gereski. Gereski invites audiences into the excited and anxious nature of Fingel. Any young person (or young at heart) will understand his fretful nature of trying to succeed in the ever changing journalism industry. Gereski has a wide-range of emotional capacity as an actor, and one can fully expect him to have a bright future of acting in the future.

Pamela Vogel is the master actor who has the pleasure of playing editor, Emily Penrose. Vogel's performance is a master class in acting as they portray every action and emotion with sincerity. The quote you read at the top of this article comes from her character, and rings throughout the theater when Vogel states it. You can feel the tangible silence when Vogel utters these words (for who has not felt some concern about our ever-changing world).

BWW Review: THE LIFESPAN OF A FACT Brilliantly Poses Complex Questions at 4th Wall Theatre Company
Nick Farco and Jack Gereski in 4th Wall Theatre 's
THE LIFESPAN OF A FACT.

Photography by Gabriella Nissen.

Finally, Nick Farco as John D'Agata is absolutely astounding as the both disgruntled writer and-as he claims-artist. When he interrupts Emily in the quote above, one can feel his nervous energy as he faces a future of artistic failure.

All of the design elements in the production are perfect. The set design by Ryan McGettigan begins with two simple desks and a white carpet, but the subsequent evolution to a house is an astounding feat. The lighting design by Dan Jones is effective, as the colors changed based on the sensations of the moment. Robert Leslie Meeks' sound design helps the audience understand the flow of the show, as emails, texts and phone calls sometimes become their own characters in the play. Finally, the masterful costume design by Macy Lane truly helps the audience understand certain elements of the characters' lives.

4th Wall Theatre Co. has done the unthinkable by having a production in these uncertain times. Especially true as COVID cases in Houston have gone exponentially up and the roots of misinformation are beginning to grasp the population again. This production should not be missed-for it is not only a masterclass of a production on its own, but it also speaks volumes of interesting questions for our turbulent times.

THE LIFESPAN OF A FACT runs at 4th Wall Theatre Co. at Spring Street Studios 1824 Spring St. Studio 101 runs until Sunday, February 3rd. The production has evening performances Thursday thru Saturday at 7:30 pm and Sundays at 3 pm. All audience members must show a negative COVID Test less than 24 hours old or a vaccination card with both doses. Masks are a requirement all throughout the venue. Tickets can be bought at https://4thwalltheatreco.com/shows/2022-The-Lifespan-of-a-fact.html.



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From This Author - Armando Urdiales