Sunday, February 19, 2023


I went to see a really decent play last night.. 

 Three characters..

It turns on technical exactitude in the face of art. 
It is chilling... in a way... It's an argument: a debate. Can someone tell the 'whole truth' ?   Ever?

This wonderful Fountain Theatre production of "The Lifespan of a Fact"  by Jeremy Kareken, David Murrell and Gordon Farrell is based on the book by Jim  Fingal  & John D'Agata.  They call it   "Based on a real story.. Truth... ISH"

I overheard the director, Simon Levy, tell friends that these guys took seven years to research and create the book! O,r, was it the play?  The effort shows in the piece. It   brings into question the balance of accurate  journalism vis a vis how Literary License may expand upon or detract from a story to make an essay for a popular magazine reflect the essayist's intent and still be 'factual.' .

Inger Tudor, Ron Bottitta, Jonah Robinson
Photo by Jenny Graham
 Is Literary License important? 

We shall see.  

We shall  see. 

Any theatre piece that points up the importance of the use of a diphthong and discusses an "epistemological problem," means that it is time to grab our handy pocket dictionary  for definitions and pay close attention. 

In eighty minutes, director Simon Levy guides his actors smoothly through the sticky wickets of well crafted staging.  The play flows nicely with three very disparate characters working together: at odds from the get-go: to find their way to the Facts, ma'am, just the Facts? 

The play asks questions, reluctantly  answering them, and, it seems, intentionally, leaving the audience, scratching our collective noggins. The story works really well with each character championing a specific agenda.   

It's a comedy!  Sort of.

 As Emily Penrose, Inger Tudor   shines as the editor-in-chief of a "high end" New York City based magazine.  Emily's challenge is to publish an 'essay' that may be socially important enough to garner national attention and boost her readership, possibly inviting  important revenue.  

Emily is busy. Emily is not patient.  Emily is very direct and juggles the business of her responsibilities  effetively... until...  

and here in lies the tale.  

Jim Fingal (the actual author of the book with John D'Agata that the play is based upon) is played   enthusiastically by young Jonah Robinson.  Jim is a Harvard grad who has signed on  to Emily's publication with the goal  of becoming a working journalist. As an intern he mostly just makes coffee for an associate editor but is now specificlally tasked to do a Quick Fact Check of an essay by aforementioned Essayist, John D'Agata (Ron Bottitta). Meeting with Emily, Jim is now responsible for making sure the 'FACTS' (caps mine) in D'Agata's essay are verifiable.  Can Jim accurately Fact Check a heart rending essay by a cranky essayist?  Bottitta channels a bit of Norman Mailer in his relationship with Jim.

D'Agata's essay focuses on suicide.  

What is a fact?  What is Truth? Does the color of the bricks in a blood stained courtyard actually matter? Does it make a difference how many strip clubs are licensed in Las Vegas when telling the story of a sixteen year old kid who takes a nose dive from The Tower of the Stratosphere Hotel? How deep is our detail oriented  fact checker expected to dive to make sure D'Agata's essay is absolutely accurate?  Does the actual number of seconds ticking off Levi Presley's decent really matter? 

The beauty of this challenging tale  is that Director Levy has arranged for the cast to all be in the same play with near perfect energy and responses: all at the same time.  Ms Tudor  ramps up quickly as Robinson and Bottitta hit the stage full throttle.  The ethical issues of what a Fact is and how will the Truth be told, is a puzzlement. Bottitta's heart rending speech recouting the death of D'Agata's mother is masterful.

Great Tech with  texting and emails projected as they happen with visuals to suggest locations are perfect. The Fountain excels in this aspect  every single time.

I love the orgnization of this piece and hope that The Fountain will have, with patrons in attendance, all full houses.  Don't miss it.


Ron Bottitta : John D'Agata

Jonah Robinson : Jim Fingal

Inger Tudor: Emily Penrose


Directed by
Simon Levy

Set Design
Joel Daavid
Lighting Design
Alison Brummer
Sound Design
Marc Antonio Pritchett
Costume Design
Michael Mullin
Prop Design
Joyce Hutter
Video Design
Nicholas Santiago
Technical Director
Scott Tuomey
Production Stage Manager
Hannah Raymond
Assistant Stage Manager
Gina DeLuca




By Jeremy Kareken, David Murrell & Gordon Farrell 

The Fountain Theatre
5060 Fountain Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90029
(corner Fountain & Normandie)

Previews: February 15 – February 17
Performances: February 18 – April 2
Wednesday at 8 p.m.: Feb. 15 ONLY (preview)
Thursday at 8 p.m.: Feb. 16 ONLY (preview)
Fridays at 8 p.m.: Feb. 17 (preview), Feb. 24; March 3; March 10; March 17; March 24; March 31
Saturdays at 8 p.m.: Feb. 18 (opening); Feb. 25; March 4; March 11; March 18; March 25; April 1
Sundays at 2 p.m.: Feb. 19; Feb. 26; March 5; March 12; March 19; March 26; April 2
Mondays at 8 p.m.: Feb. 27; March 6; March 20; March 27 (dark Feb. 20; March 13)
Parking info:

$5 in the Fountain lot, or please allow extra time to find street parking.
• Street parking is available in the neighborhood north of Fountain Avenue.
• No parking after 6 p.m on Mariposa or Alexandria Avenues south of Fountain.
• Make sure to read all parking signs!

Just a reminder that
masks are not required at Saturday's performance, but are highly recommended. 

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