The Illusionary Truth of a Survivor of Seduction Abuse
Captive, trapped, disoriented, and terrified. These are the words that Dana Higginbotham described as her experience while living in a series of motels in Florida. Who is Dana Higginbotham you may ask? Dana H. was a psych ward chaplain, and an ex-convict by the name of Jim, a suicide patient was seeking redemption who held her in captivity.
In this harrowing story told in his mother's actual words and her recorded voice, Award-winning playwright Lucas Hnath (A Doll's House, Part 2, the Christians) recounts the true-life story of his mother's abduction and sexual abuse. Hnath reconstruction of the ex-captive is an incredibly emotionally disturbing piece of theatre that is haunting and brilliantly done at the same time.
Lucas Hnath, Dana's son, brings an unusual and intriguing strategy for a play that translates memory into a coherent narrative. Dana H. was adapted from taped recordings of interviews as she tells the horrific truth and trauma terror of how she was taken against her will.
A leader of Aryan Nations relentlessly victimized her; but Dana was finally able to escape the wrath of the dangerously unstable, mentally ill, ex-convict.
Set in a shabby motel room in Florida, Dana played by Deirdre O'Connell was on stage dressed in red and black; recounting the grueling months of her abduction.
One of the greatest voiceovers, you will ever witness on center stage was at Goodman Theatre. Deirdre O'Connell took on the challenging title role silencing her voice so that the words of the real Dana H. can come forward. Deirdre would learn to master lip-synching to capture and master Dana's tone, mouth speed, and physical and emotional character. O'Connell mastered this role! Her lip movements, facial expression, and even body language were dazzling and exceptional.
We purposely stared at O'Connell, looking at her lip sync each word. She was so persuasive as Dana's in words and gestures that O'Connell even goes through items in her purse and taps the papers on cue. You almost forget she's not speaking; and something even better, you forget she isn't Dana. There will be skeptics in the audience who think O'Connell couldn't pull this off without help. That she somehow used something like a Bite Switch, which allows the user to hold the switch in their mouth and gently bite to activate and where the activation stops when pressure is released. Skepticism aside, season theater saints will marvel at her flawless technique and delivery.
There are many unanswered and missing pieces in this 75–minute illusive play, that the audience has to ponder whether some of her accounts are fact or fiction. However adding them will only make this play better, but as it is, it does not lack a powerful message. Dana H is a remarkable story, and by the end, the storyline is so riveting and grows in intensity, and the truth; that the only thought you will leave with is, OMG!
Let's Play Highly Recommends Dana H at the Good Theatre.
Written by: Lucas Hnath
Directed by: Les Waters
September 14th – October 6th
Filed under: ChicagoNow