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      OH HOW I LOVE AN OPENING NIGHT by Barbara Biddison

      fact2Another opening, another show!!  I've said it before, I'll say it again.  The first of six LIFESPAN OF A FACT performances opened with what we now call a "full house."  Physically we can get more chairs in the Warehouse Theatre, but now they are spaced for distancing so "full" isn't quite the same as it can be. The buzz of the audience before the show begins is the same though.  Being masked doesn't keep us from talking to each other. And then the curtain talk, and the lights in the theatre go down, and the audience is hushed and expectant, and the lights on stage go up, and the characters begin to talk.  I never get tired of that.  And, in this case we are rewarded by the beginning of a three-person show that holds our attention for an hour-and-a-half.  This show is very often very funny and sometimes heartbreaking, but it is always attention-grabbing and  thought-provoking.  The 3 actors are really believable as they grapple with each other and with their own truths.  The audience can listen to each of them and "take sides," or the audience can just wait to see  who wins, if anyone does.  We have choices just like the characters do.
      These three actors are really good.  Gabe makes the perfect vain "essay" writer.  He is pretty insistent about his way, but I grew to like that about him.  Ramon counters that with a novice "fact-checker"  who seems to go overboard most of the time (one wonders how his character found time to make his visual aid).  And Lilace took me from wishing that her character would stop trying to do everything at once to admiring that she cares so much.  All this in retrospect, of course
      I am familiar with this play.  I read it when Artistic Planning first considered it.  I saw rehearsals when it first tried to come to life before a pandemic closure.  And for the current lifespan I have been "on script"  when actors first put down theirs so that director Jessie could look at hers or at the actors during rehearsal.  Then I attended a "cue-to-cue" rehearsal for a couple hours just before opening--a necessary run-through of technical needs without all the dialog--and was reminded of how much goes into that part of producing a show.  (I knew that, but seeing it is always just amazing to me).  Jessie Thompson is, for me, a very attentive and really helpful director to watch.  She is a stickler for detail, and very patient and good-humored with actors and tech people.  So I had read the play first.  To see it performed is a very different thing.   I plan to see it again next week.

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