Signs of Spring

Okay, so everybody knows what the calendar tells us: that the first day of spring in 2023 will be Monday, March 20, the date of the vernal equinox, with hours of light and darkness in perfect balance. 

But everybody also knows that the start of spring is as much a feeling as it is an astronomical fact, a feeling fueled by the myriad signs, large and small, that restore color and depth to senses flattened by monochromatic winter, no matter how atypically warm January might have been, or how bone chilling and blustery as this March has turned out to be. 

Spring light. —A. Botsford Photo

What signs? Start with the gains in daylight. After, achingly, only inching ahead every day since the winter solstice, the sun’s light has now been doused in the accelerant of Daylight Saving Time, and the resulting bright postponement of dusk changes our perspective on everything that happens, or delightfully doesn’t, between 4:30 and 7:30 p.m. 

There is the crescendo in the chorus of birdsong celebrating the sunrise, as if to herald not only the increased quantity of light, but the very real change in its quality. Yes, there are more cars on the roads, but the oppressive crush of summer traffic is still a ways off and now it just seems like life returning to our East End arteries, just as it is in the soil and in the bays and ocean. 

The egrets have started to show up in the creeks and on the marshes, and now the ospreys are returning. And many stores, closed up tight for the winter months, are starting to open their doors again, just like the blossoms of crocuses and daffodils. 

In our village, of course, anticipation continues to mount for a particular mercantile blossoming: the opening of the new Schmidt’s Country Market on Jessup Avenue, in the building that formerly housed the Quogue Country Market. Southampton’s loss is most certainly Quogue’s gain, and At Quaquanantuck is eager to share more details about the store next week. Stay tuned. 

Opening hours. —A. Botsford Photo

Another traditional sign of spring—first restored post-Covid last March—is the Hampton Theatre Company’s spring production, which it is hoped will not be too severely impacted by another spring tradition, i.e. roadwork, in this case phase two of the Jessup Avenue overhaul. 

“The Lifespan of a Fact” Opens March 16 at Quogue Community Hall
“The Lifespan of a Fact,” a riveting three-character play that combines biting humor with timely arguments about the collision of print journalism with poetic license, continues the Hampton Theatre Company’s 2022-2023 season with performances running from March 16 through April 2 at the Quogue Community Hall.

Based on a nonfiction 2012 book of the same name by John D’Agata and Jim Fingal—which in turn was inspired by an essay written by D’Agata about a teenager’s 2002 suicide in Las Vegas—“The Lifespan of a Fact” was adapted for the stage in 2018 by Jeremy Kareken & David Murrell and Gordon Ferrell. The play tells the story of how Fingal, an idealistic, fresh-out-of-Harvard intern, was tasked by the editor of a prestigious yet troubled New York magazine to fact-check a groundbreaking piece written by celebrated author D’Agata—with a strict deadline only a weekend away.

Jamie Baio, left, and Matthew Conlon in a scene from “The Lifespan of a Fact.” —A. Botsford Photo

Excited by the opportunity to prove himself on such a prestigious piece, Jim’s mood quickly changes to alarm when he discovers a disturbing pattern of unsubstantiated claims and creative liberties taken by D’Agata throughout the otherwise brilliant 15-page essay. The play climaxes with an 11th-hour faceoff between author, editor and fact-checker—with none willing to give ground as the hours grind by and a deadline decision looms.

“The Lifespan of a Fact” premiered at New York’s Studio 54 in October 2018, with Daniel Radcliffe as Jim and Bobby Cannavale as John; Cherry Jones rounded out the cast as Emily Penrose, the editor who sees in D’Agata’s essay the kind of buzzworthy piece that could save the magazine from irrelevancy and possible ruin.

A New York Times “Critics’ Pick,” the play was lauded as “buoyantly literate” by The Washington Post, with Variety praising its “terrifically funny dialogue … the debate at the heart of this play transcends comedy and demands serious attention.” The Hollywood Reporter called it an “ingenious adaptation of the sui generis book of the same name … moves with the ticking-clock urgency the situation demands, yet finds appropriate moments to breathe and let us ruminate on the personal, professional and moral issues at stake.” 

The HTC production of “The Lifespan of a Fact” features a trio of accomplished actors, each of whom has performed on the HTC stage before: Laurie Atlas (“Ripcord”) as Emily, Jamie Baio (“Lost in Yonkers”) as Jim, and Matthew Conlon (“Ken Ludwig’s Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery,” “Man of La Mancha”) as John.

George Loizides (“Over the River and Through the Woods,” “A Doll’s House, Part 2”) directs; HTC veteran Andrew Botsford is the producer. Set design is by Mr. Loizides; lighting design by Sebastian Paczynski; sound by Seamus Naughton; and costumes by Teresa Lebrun.

Performances of “The Lifespan of a Fact” will run from March 16 through April 2 on Thursdays and Fridays at 7, Saturdays at 8, and Sundays at 2:30. An additional matinee performance will be offered during the final weekend of the production, on Saturday, April 1, prior to the regular 8 p.m. performance that evening.

A talkback with the cast will be offered to ticketholders immediately following the Friday, March 24, evening performance.

Tickets are $36, $31 for seniors, and $20 for students 25 and under, and are available at the Hampton Theatre Company website at or by calling 631-653-8955.

Jamie Baio, Laurie Atlas and Matthew Conlon in “The Lifespan of a Fact.” —A. Botsford Photo

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