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  Dana H. at Goodman Theatre

Dana H.

Goodman Theatre
170 N. Dearborn Street Chicago

Dana was a chaplain of a psych ward where she met a charismatic patient, an ex-convict searching for redemption. A harrowing true story, Dana was held captive with her life in this man's hands-trapped in a series of Florida motels, disoriented and terrified-for five months. Told in Dana's own words and reconstructed for the stage by her son Lucas Hnath (A Doll's House, Part 2, The Christians), "one of the freshest playwriting voices to emerge in the past five years" (The New York Times), this innovative work shatters the boundaries of the art form and our understanding of good and evil.

Thru - Oct 6, 2019

Price: $15-$45

Stage: Owen Theatre

Show Type: Drama

Box Office: 312-443-3800

Running Time: 1hr, 15mins; no intermission

Goodman Theatre Seating Charts

Suggested Nearby Restaurant

  Dana H. Reviews
  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune - Highly Recommended

"...If you're interested in the art of acting, like your critic here, you'll likely find yourself musing on how once you remove an actor's need to speak, as has been deleted here, that performer then has more psychic space to concentrate on every other aspect of a person's re-creation. The end result here, to O'Connell's great credit, feels more like inhabiting than acting, even though to inhabit a character often is the ultimate goal of an actor. And a performance most certainly is what you are watching here. No actor with an interest in the ultimate manifestation of what they do should miss the chance to see O'Connell's work."
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Chris Jones

Chicago Sun Times - Highly Recommended

"...Lucas Hnath is undoubtedly not the first playwright to have his mother suggest he write a play about her. He may well be the first to have his mother suggest he write a play about her kidnapping. Which is what he's done - with some unorthodox formal twists of his own - in his deeply unsettling new play "Dana H.," now on stage at the Goodman."
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Kris Vire

Daily Herald - Highly Recommended

"...But there is nothing gimmicky about O'Connell's extraordinary performance in this intriguingly told, unquestionably harrowing survivor's tale by the award-winning Hnath ("Hillary and Clinton," "A Doll's House, Part 2") chronicling events hospice chaplain Higginbotham says happened to her in 1997. Decades later, Higginbotham recalled the story in a series of taped interviews with theater-maker Steve Cosson, artistic director of New York City's The Civilians. Hnath subsequently shaped her statements into "Dana H.," which Goodman produced in association with Los Angeles' Center Theatre Group where the play premiered last June."
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Barbara Vitello

Chicago Reader - Highly Recommended

"...O'Connell's performance under Les Waters's direction embodies both the doubt and the resilience in Dana as she fiddles with her glasses, twists a water bottle in her hands, and occasionally refers to her own written version of events, apologizing for the fuzziness of the time line she's recounting. It's not uncommon for victims of trauma to disconnect physically and feel as if their story is happening to someone else. Centering Dana's actual voice while using another woman's physical presence is a way for Hnath to both honor his mother's experience in her own words (crucial when women's accounts of violence and abuse are routinely discounted) and embody that disconnect."
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Kerry Reid

Let's Play at ChicagoNow - Highly Recommended

"...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!"
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Rick and Brenda McCain

Around The Town Chicago - Somewhat Recommended

"...It is not often that a theater audience bears witness to what might be called a "documentary play", but watching the brilliance of Lucas Hnath's "Dana H" tonight on the Owen stage of The Goodman, one feels that they are. What we witness over the 80 plus minute ( no intermission) is an actual history of events that Hnath's mother, Dana Higginbotham lived through . Dana, who was a nondenominational hospice chaplain , and had worked with many people of many various backgrounds, was helping a mentally ill ex-convict turn his life around. This was what she did and did well!"
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Alan Bresloff

NewCity Chicago - Highly Recommended

"...Is this a true story? Or is the entire narrative simply the playwright’s creation, an attempt to further play with our perceptions of truth and fiction? In spite of the compelling story on stage that commands our full attention, the “business” of this production keeps it in question at the same time. We have no reason to believe that her story is anything but true, but in a production like this, it’s also perfectly normal to question it, especially when the story seems to invite it with narrative moments that are hard for an audience to rationalize."
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Brian Hieggelke

Chicago Theatre Review - Highly Recommended

"...Dana H. is a revolutionary new play directed by Les Waters and written by Lucas Hnath. It is the true story of Hnath’s mother, Dana Higginbotham, who was abducted by an ex-convict who she had met and helped counsel in a psych ward."
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Sophie Vitello

Chicagoland Theater Reviews - Highly Recommended

"...“Dana H” had its world premiere earlier this year as a co-production with the Center Theatre Group in Los Angeles. It’s a remarkable slice of theater but its commercial success will depend on the availability of Deirdre O’Connor. It’s unlikely many actresses will take the time and commitment to master the show’s lip sync demands so this probably is the only chance local playgoers will have to experience this very special work. It’s an experience not to be missed."
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Dan Zeff - Highly Recommended

"...Would you be able to spot a person in trouble? Lucas Hnath’s new play “Dana H” is a fascinating look at what the seedy underbelly of America may be (or sound) like. Goodman Theatre gives this unique new drama its Chicago premiere with direction by Les Waters."
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John Accrocco

Third Coast Review - Highly Recommended

"...Walking into Dana H., all I knew was that the lead actor, Deirdre O’Connell, was lip-syncing. Little did I know I was going to see one of the most intense, emotional productions I have ever seen. Playwright Lucas Hnath, director Les Waters, and actor O’Connell have accomplished a truly enormous feat. Dana H., Hnath’s story about his own mother, might just be the finest production I’ve ever seen, and if you enjoy documentaries and dramas, you have to see Dana H."
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James Brod

Chicago On Stage - Recommended

"...Dana H is a play that is definitely not for everyone, which is why I yellow-light it in my recommendation. But it is a play that is as compelling as O’Connell’s performance, which is one of the finest of the year. You may well, as I did, leave the theatre with as many questions as answers, but you will have experienced something indelible and remarkable. It definitely beats watching a procedural on TV."
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Karen Topham

PicksInSix - Highly Recommended

"...The almost imperceptible rustling of papers in the hands of Deirdre O’Connell marked the subtlety of a searing performance so arresting in Lucas Hnath’s “Dana H.” that those who had the privilege of attending Monday night’s world premiere at the Goodman’s Owen Theatre sat virtually motionless during the first few moments of the first of two curtain calls."
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Ed Tracy

Picture This Post - Highly Recommended

"...Part of what makes this such gripping fare – at least for this writer-- is that you hear the story in Dana H.’s actual voice, with the actress Deirdre O’Connell lip synching all the while. It’s a break the mold approach to theater that in itself should make this a top pick for your time."
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Amy Munice

  Dana H. Photo Gallery

   This show has been Jeff Recommended*

*The designation of "Jeff Recommended" is given to a production when at least ONE ELEMENT of the show was deemed outstanding by the Joseph Jefferson Awards Committee.

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