Chicago Premiere

November 1 – December 23, 2023

A comedic showdown between truth and fact set in the world of non-fiction publishing.

JIM FINGAL IS AN EAGER YOUNG INTERN at a high-profile magazine hoping to impress his demanding editor-in-chief, Emily Penrose. When assigned the job of fact-checking legendary writer John D’Agata’s essay about the city of Las Vegas, Jim discovers a huge problem: many of the essay’s details were made up. As the publication deadline looms, a battle between truth and fact ensues in a gripping and fast-paced comedic showdown.

Drawing from true events surrounding real-life Jim Fingal’s fact-checking of the John D’Agata essay “What Happens There,” The Lifespan of a Fact has been praised as “a smart and engaging exploration of the nature of truth and the role of the media in society,” (Chicago Tribune) and “a tightly written and expertly crafted play that keeps the audience riveted from start to finish” (The New York Times).

The book on which the play is based, The Lifespan of a Fact, received critical attention from national media including NPRThe New York Times, and The Los Angeles Times. It was subsequently named a “Top 10 Most Crucial Book” by the editors of Slate, a “Best Book of the Year” by The Huffington Post, and an Editor’s Choice by The New York Times Book Review. 

The stage adaptation opened on Broadway in 2018, starring Daniel Radcliffe, Bobby Cannavale, and Cherry Jones.

CONTENT ADVISORY: To learn more about the specific content and themes of this production, please visit our content advisory page.

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Production Team


* Member of Actors Equity Association

# Member of United Scenic Artists

~ Member of Stage Directors and Choreographers Society

+ TimeLine Company Member

^ TimeLine Associate Artist

§ TimeLine Playwrights Collective


  • Chicago Tribune

    November 10, 2023

    the kind of smart entertainment designed to get conversations started at a post-show drink”

    —Chris Jones

  • Newcity Stage

    November 21, 2023

    “I was so enraptured with this notion of fact vs. fiction that, when the dust finally settled, I wasn’t ready for light to break…honestly, this show could not be more perfect for this company.”

    —Amanda Finn

  • Around The Town Chicago

    November 21, 2023

    “★★★★★…smart, engaging and with just the right blend of humor…a great show you really need to see”

    —Paul Lisnek

  • Buzz Center Stage

    November 11, 2023

    The Lifespan of a Fact is sharp, focused and funny...all three actors [imbue] their characters with a generous amount of charm”

    —Susan Lieberman

  • Chicago Reader

    November 16, 2023

    “recommended..a zesty portrait of the foibles of journalistic and artistic egos alike” 

    —Kerry Reid

  • Chicago Theatre Review

    November 12, 2023

    “Highly recommended…this comic drama is skillfully directed by TimeLine Company Member, Mechelle Moe…[the] cast is excellent”

    —Colin Douglas

  • Broadway World

    November 16, 2023

    “clever…a smart, entertaining play

    —Rachel Weinberg


  • Hyde Park Herald

    October 31, 2023

    “[Playwright Jeremy Kareken says] that the University of Chicago was ‘in the play’s bones.‘ ‘You can hear that type of intellectual wrestling match — people tackling an important psychological argument with warmth, humor and anger — every morning in first year humanities, every day on the quad, every night at Jimmy’s'”

    —Anne Spiselman

  • Splash Magazine

    November 21, 2023

    “a theatrical look into what can, and can’t, be proven to be true…”

    —Jessica Mordacq

Discussions & Events

  • THE LIFESPAN OF A FACT: Post-Show Discussions
    Various Dates

    Join us for informal post-show discussions with members of the production team and cast.

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  • Distanced Performance of THE LIFESPAN OF A FACT
    Friday, November 17 at 8pm

    This performance has a capacity cap and seating chart.

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  • THE LIFESPAN OF A FACT: PRE-Show Discussions
    November 26 & December 6

    Join us for an informal sneak peek into this production with members of the production team.

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  • THE LIFESPAN OF A FACT: Company Member Discussion
    Sunday, December 3 at 3:30pm

    Join us for an informal chat with TimeLine’s Company Members after today’s performance.

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  • Open Captioned Performances of THE LIFESPAN OF A FACT
    December 8 at 8pm & December 9 at 4pm

    Featuring a text display of words and sounds heard during the performance.

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  • THE LIFESPAN OF A FACT: Sunday Scholars
    Sunday, December 10 at 3:30pm

    This one-hour post-show panel discussion features experts on the themes of the play.expe

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  • Audio Described Performance of THE LIFESPAN OF A FACT
    Friday, December 15 at 8:00pm

    Featuring audio description of visuals during the performance via individual headset.

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