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REVIEW: The Importance Of Accuracy In Addressing Real Events Is Examined In The Dramatisation Of THE LIFESPAN OF A FACT

THE LIFESPAN OF A FACT

REVIEW: The Importance Of Accuracy In Addressing Real Events Is Examined In The Dramatisation Of THE LIFESPAN OF A FACT

Saturday 24th September 2022, 7:30pm, Roslyn Packer Theatre

John D'Agata and Jim Fingal's book is given the live theatre treatment in Jeremy Kareken, David Murrell and Gordon Farrell's interpretation of THE LIFESPAN OF A FACT. Finally making it to the Sydney Theatre Company stage under Paige Rattray's direction, inspired by the postponed season vision by Anne-Louis Sarks, this work retains a relevance though different immediacy than when the play premiered on Broadway in 2018.

REVIEW: The Importance Of Accuracy In Addressing Real Events Is Examined In The Dramatisation Of THE LIFESPAN OF A FACT
Sigrid Thornton and Maria Alfonsine in Sydney Theatre Company's The Lifespan of a Fact, 2022. Photo: Prudence Upton

The stage show draws on the unusual book that expresses the 7-year interchange between established essayist John D'Agata (Gareth Davies) and Jim Fingal (Charles Wu), the Harvard graduate assigned to fact check his latest submission, a work addressing the culture of suicide in Las Vegas, Nevada. While the real article was picked up by The Believer magazine after Harper's Magazine pulled out of publishing the work due to disagreements with D'Agata over their fact checking, the editor at The Believer also wanted the work fact checked and assigned the task to Fingal. The stage play draws, verbatim, on the notes between D'Agata and Fingal but creates a fictional expression of a high-power magazine editor in the form of Emily Penrose (Sigrid Thornton) and an imagined expression of how the three could have interacted together to come to a point of deciding whether the work would be published or not.

REVIEW: The Importance Of Accuracy In Addressing Real Events Is Examined In The Dramatisation Of THE LIFESPAN OF A FACT
Sigrid Thornton and Charles Wu in Sydney Theatre Company's The Lifespan of a Fact, 2022. Photo: Prudence Upton

Set designer Marg Horwell keeps the design flexible to transition easily from Penrose's minimalist executive office overlooking the New York skyline (think Devil Wears Prada) to D'Agata's mother's Nevada home, still sporting 1970's décor even though D'Agata has moved much of her possessions into storage on her wintergarden. Projections and screens enforce the time constraints of the project and relay the email communications with fonts synonymous with high end magazines. Emma White's costuming is equally simple while easily identifying the types of characters, from a tailored bone-white power suit for Penrose, contemporary college sporty casual for Fingal and a middle-aged middle-class casual for D'Agata. With a tight run time of 75 minutes, subtle changes to costumes are completed at side stage while set pieces are slid and lifted into place. Scenes along with transitions are underscored with jazz clarinet contributions from musician/composer/sound designer Maria Alfonsine who oversees and move around the action.

REVIEW: The Importance Of Accuracy In Addressing Real Events Is Examined In The Dramatisation Of THE LIFESPAN OF A FACT
Gareth Davies in Sydney Theatre Company's The Lifespan of a Fact, 2022. Photo: Prudence Upton

The trio of performers deliver clear expressions of their characters. Thornton captures the high-power editor's intensity and demanding nature while allowing the shift In Focus in favor of accepting the importance of Fingal's findings and pursuit of facts that will ensure that the work is not dismissed, reflecting the conflicting emotion that many may have about who's views are right. Wu allows Fingal to shift from the eager and confident new recruit to one conflicted by his desire to do his job properly and the challenge of questioning someone he admires. Davies exudes the arrogance and entitlement of a successful middle aged white man whose work has never been challenged to the degree that Fingal is now doing.

REVIEW: The Importance Of Accuracy In Addressing Real Events Is Examined In The Dramatisation Of THE LIFESPAN OF A FACT
Gareth Davies and Charles Wu in Sydney Theatre Company's The Lifespan of a Fact, 2022. Photo: Prudence Upton

THE LIFESPAN OF A FACT is a captivating work that provokes though and examination of what we accept as truth and at what point do we start doubting what we are told is real. While the book was a culmination of the 7 years between D'Agata submitting the essay of WHAT HAPPENS THERE to The Believer in 2003 and being assigned Fingal as the essay's fact checker and its eventual, edited, publication in 2010, the play was produced partly as a response to the politics of 2018. The United States, and to a degree the rest of the world due to the ease of information spread, was dealing with a president that was content with lying to manipulate the information to fit his own agenda and he repeatedly got away with it no matter how many times he was called on it. People who saw through his lies fought even harder to find the truth between the 'fake news'. While American politics has shifted, the underlying questions that THE LIFESPAN OF A FACT raises remain as there are still people willing to manipulate the truth for their own agenda and it remains important to demand that there be truth in journalism.

REVIEW: The Importance Of Accuracy In Addressing Real Events Is Examined In The Dramatisation Of THE LIFESPAN OF A FACT
Sigrid Thornton and Gareth Davies in Sydney Theatre Company's The Lifespan of a Fact, 2022. Photo: Prudence Upton

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REVIEW: The Importance Of Accuracy In Addressing Real Events Is Examined In The Dramatisation Of THE LIFESPAN OF A FACT
Charles Wu, Sigrid Thornton, Gareth Davies and Maria Alfonsine in Sydney Theatre Company's The Lifespan of a Fact, 2022. Photo: Prudence Upton

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From This Author - Jade Kops

Jade is an Aviation Safety Training Instructor with a love of Theatre, Cabaret, Musical Theatre, and music and is a committed advocate for the live performing arts industry in Sydney and Australia.... (read more about this author)


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