‘Dana H’

Deirdre O'Connell as Dana H at Goodman Theatre. (Photo by Craig Schwartz)
Deirdre O’Connell as Dana H at Goodman Theatre. (Photo by Craig Schwartz)

3 ½ stars

Someone on my train ride home asked if I enjoyed the show.  After all, some theater is for entertainment. But, this is not a show for a fun evening out.

Go because it is an eye-opener to some of the dictates of not known-to-everyone organizations or societies out there. Go because you will learn even more than probably known now about injustice from people who are supposed to protect you and care about you.

Go also because the play is well acted within a very unusual format.

The entire play takes place in a motel room. Although it is a short, less than 90-minute production, you feel as if you lived through Dana’s incomparable five months of captivity and her pre-and post hostage weeks.

Dana, exquisitely portrayed by Deirdre O’Connell, is Dana Higginbotham, a former psych ward chaplain. She is being interviewed by Steve Cosson on her horrifying experience. You hear, but don’t see, Cosson.

The woman heard is the actual Dana whose interviews were recorded at the request of her son, Lucas Hnath, the award winning playwright of “A Doll’s House Part 2” and “The Christians.”

Hnath has reconstructed the interviews into a “docudrama” for the stage with O’Connell lip-syncing the recorded words and reacting to the experience the way  ‘Dana did.

To emphasize the motel room place, actress Molly Bunder enters and cleans the room accompanied by strobe-lit, fast-forwarding, blurred recorded sounds.

Superbly directed by Les Waters, the experience of sitting inside a theater where everything from valet parking and “L” noise is left behind and that familiar world is replaced by a chilling, but actual world of unthinkable violence and betrayal is so disturbing it is likely to change you.

DETAILS: ‘”Dana H.” is a co-production with Center Theatre Group at Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St, Chicago, through Oct. 6, 2019. Running time: Under 90 minutes. For tickets and other information call (312) 443-3800 or visit Goodman Theatre.

(The show is not appropriate for ages under 16)

Jodie Jacobs

For more shows visit Theatre in Chicago